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Is Interior Design a Good Career?

You have always had a knack for design, whether it's redesigning your dad's home office, revamping your mom's kitchen, or transforming your sibling's bedroom. But does this mean that you should pursue a career in...

You have always had a knack for design, whether it's redesigning your dad's home office, revamping your mom's kitchen, or transforming your sibling's bedroom. But does this mean that you should pursue a career in interior design? Is it a good choice for your future?

The Passionate Pursuit of Creativity

Interior design is indeed a promising career path for those who have a passion for arts and design and are willing to put in the effort and commitment required. With a median salary of $60,340 per year, it offers a lucrative opportunity for those who aspire to run their own interior design business or work at interior design agencies.

So if you've always envisioned yourself working in a field where your creativity is constantly utilized, then interior design might be the perfect fit for you.

interior designer Image: Interior Designer

Embracing Challenges and Rewards

It's no secret that careers in the art and design industry, including interior design, can be stressful. Daily challenges, such as dealing with delayed vendors or unhappy clients, are a common occurrence. However, despite the pressure, interior designing remains one of the most rewarding careers out there.

It's important to note that creative work often comes with increased job stress. So before you embark on an interior design program, make sure you have the mental fortitude to handle the demands of the job. Additionally, possessing certain skills can help minimize work-related stress, which we'll discuss later on.

The Multifaceted Role of an Interior Designer

Being an interior designer is more than just making a space look aesthetically pleasing. It involves a wide range of duties and responsibilities. Here are just a few examples:

  • Searching for and pitching new design projects
  • Understanding the client's objectives and requirements
  • Determining the purpose and function of the space
  • Creating design plans by hand or with computer software
  • Specifying design elements, furniture, and fixtures
  • Managing project timelines and costs
  • Coordinating with contractors for implementation
  • Overseeing the installation of design elements

As you can see, the role of an interior designer requires a diverse skill set and the ability to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously.

Navigating the Challenges of College

While pursuing a degree in interior design can be challenging, it is an exciting and refreshing major for students passionate about art and design. The core courses in a bachelor's program typically cover interior design history, design principles, graphic design, and technical drawing.

Although interior design may not be as academically rigorous as healthcare or STEM-related majors, it still presents its own set of challenges. Creativity is a crucial aspect of interior design, and developing this skill can be demanding. Core courses in the discipline lay the foundation for a successful career, covering subjects such as arts and graphics, building services, and history of interior design.

Unlike many other majors, interior design often does not offer concentrations or specializations. However, students can choose elective courses to tailor their education to their specific interests. Additionally, pursuing a minor can enhance one's marketability as an interior designer. Popular minor options include advertising, business, environmental studies, information technology, and psychology.

kitchen design Image: Kitchen Design

Traits and Skills for Success

To succeed as an interior designer, certain qualities and skills are essential. While some may come naturally, many can be honed during your college education. Here are some of the key traits and skills that interior design majors should possess:

  • Analytical thinking
  • Budgeting skills
  • Communication skills
  • Creativity
  • Attention to detail
  • Drawing aptitude
  • Flexibility
  • Goal-oriented mindset
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Knowledge of design trends and styles
  • Organizational skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Spatial balance understanding
  • Stress tolerance
  • Team-player mentality
  • Time management skills
  • Visual sensitivity

Developing these qualities will not only enhance your education but also contribute to your future success as an interior designer.

Navigating the Path to Professionalism

After obtaining your bachelor's degree in interior design, you may be eager to jump into the professional world. However, it's important to note that depending on your location, you may need to meet certain requirements before practicing as an interior designer.

While most states in the US allow interior designers to work right after graduation, others require registration, particularly for those who wish to work unsupervised in commercial spaces. States that have registration requirements include Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, and Washington, D.C. If you plan to work in Puerto Rico, registration is also necessary.

Diverse Career Opportunities

A bachelor's degree in interior design opens up a wide range of career options, predominantly within the art and design field. While interior design itself offers a fulfilling career path, the skills acquired through this major can also be applied to other professions. Here are a few career possibilities:

Production Designer

Median annual salary: $50,878 Job outlook in 10 years: 9%

Production designers are responsible for the visual concept of theater, film, or television productions. They collaborate closely with directors and producers, often selecting crucial design elements such as props and costumes. While a degree in graphic design is often preferred, an interior design degree can also be valuable in this field.

Graphic Designer

Median annual salary: $50,710 Job outlook in 10 years: 3%

With their foundational knowledge of design concepts and computer-aided drafting, interior design majors can also pursue careers as graphic designers. While a bachelor's in graphic design is often preferred, employers are open to candidates from related fields. The demand for graphic designers continues to grow, offering various opportunities in advertising, design service agencies, or self-employment.

Fashion Designer

Median annual salary: $77,450 Job outlook in 10 years: 0%

Although a degree in fashion design is available, skilled individuals with an eye for fashion and an interior design background can also thrive as fashion designers. Some work independently or for apparel manufacturing companies, while others contribute to production outfits for TV and movie industries. Fashion hubs like New York, California, Florida, Oregon, and Washington offer the highest employment levels in this field.

Exhibit Designer

Median annual salary: $57,701 Job outlook in 10 years: 3%

Exhibit designers, also known as exhibition designers or exhibit preparators, create fixtures and displays for events hosted by galleries, museums, retail stores, and more. They often hold at least a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as fine arts, graphic design, or interior design. The career is competitive, and further education may be necessary for success.

Floral Designer

Median annual salary: $29,880 Job outlook in 10 years: -20%

While many floral designers work in flower shops or other establishments, some interior designers opt to design their own floral arrangements. Although job growth in floral design is declining, skilled individuals can still find opportunities. Those interested in entrepreneurship can even run their own flower shops.

Art Director

Median annual salary: $100,890 Job outlook in 10 years: 11%

Art directors play a crucial role in shaping the visual style and images used in magazines, product packaging, and TV or movie productions. They work closely with design staff and must possess artistic and leadership skills. Art directors typically have a bachelor's degree in fine arts, graphic design, or a related field.

Furniture Designer

Median annual salary: $62,429 Job outlook in 10 years: 0%

Interior designers have a keen eye for furniture selection and placement, which can inspire some to pursue furniture design as a career. Some work for design factories producing furniture, while others run their own furniture stores. By designing furniture themselves, interior designers can have a say in materials, styling, and other important elements.

Interior Design Writer

Median annual salary: $69,510 Job outlook in 10 years: 9%

Interior design majors can leverage their knowledge and writing skills to become interior design writers. These writers produce engaging content related to interior design for various media platforms, including newspapers, magazines, websites, and social media. Interior design writers can work as self-employed freelancers or for businesses and companies.

Textile Designer

Median annual salary: $52,383 Job outlook in 10 years: 9%

Textile designers create two-dimensional designs for printable fabrics used in various products. They design patterns, both new and restyled, and are involved in the production process. While some textile designers hold degrees specifically in textile design, others come from related fields. Familiarity with block printing, screen printing, and digital printing is advantageous.

Sales Representative

Median annual salary: $62,890 Job outlook in 10 years: 5%

Interior design degree holders can excel as sales representatives, selling interior design-related goods to businesses and organizations. While most sales representatives work for wholesalers and manufacturers of electrical appliances, furniture, lighting fixtures, and more, some choose to venture into entrepreneurship. This role often requires extensive travel and the ability to perform under pressure.

Choosing the Best Interior Design Schools

To embark on a successful interior design career, choosing the right college or university is crucial. Look for institutions that prioritize art and design or offer reputable interior design programs. However, keep in mind that these schools may come at a higher cost, so consider the financial aspect carefully.

Here are some top interior design schools to consider adding to your college list:

Institution Cost Acceptance Rate
Example University 1 Cost 1 Acceptance Rate 1
Example University 2 Cost 2 Acceptance Rate 2

Exploring Online Interior Design Programs

For non-traditional students or those seeking flexible learning options, online interior design programs can provide a pathway to obtaining a degree without the need for a physical classroom. Explore these accredited institutions offering online interior design degrees:

California State University - Long Beach

  • Location: Long Beach, California
  • Cost: $227.50 per credit hour
  • Accreditor: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Acceptance rate: 42%
  • Average starting salary: $37,500 per year

Abilene Christian University

  • Location: Abilene, Texas
  • Cost: $283.59 per credit hour
  • Accreditor: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Acceptance rate: 63%
  • Average starting salary: $36,500 per year

Atlantic International University

  • Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Cost: $400.00 per credit hour
  • Accreditor: Accreditation Service for International Schools, Colleges, and Universities (ASIC)
  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Average starting salary: $20,100 per year

Follow Your Passion

If you have a passion for the arts and design industry, a career as an interior designer is an excellent choice. While it may come with its share of challenges and stress, the fulfillment it brings makes it all worth it. So don't hesitate to pursue an interior design program in college if it aligns with your aspirations.

Read Next: Is it Good to Major in Graphic Design?