Practice >> 4 -
Work Settings & Earnings
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, interior
designers of all types are nearly four times as likely
to be self-employed, often as residential interior designers,
as are other specialty professionals. Many work in small
firms of one to five employees.
The most recent United States Census Bureau information available
from 1997 calculates 9,612 interior design firms in the U.S. , with
a total of 33,915 employees — or about 3.5 employees
per firm on average. A number of large interior design firms employ
50 or fewer interior designers. Some employ between 100 and 200, and
a very few employ several hundred or more. In Canada , the average number
of employees per firm would be the same – approximately 3.5. Large
firms would employ between 30 – 50 employees.
Earnings for interior designers vary widely depending on the type
of design they do, whether they are self-employed or salaried, years
of experience, reputation, demand, regional differences and other factors.
As in many other professions, entry-level salaries are low, and senior
practitioners and firm principals or partners often earn several times
that of junior staff.
Recent surveys indicate that, on average, beginning interior designers
earn about $30,000 a year. Mid-level interior designers — those
with three or more years’ experience — make
slightly more, around $35,000 to $40,000 annually. Interior designers
who also demonstrate good project and/or people management skills can
command substantially higher salaries ($50,000 to $55,000) as managers.
Principals or partners in well-to-do firms may receive $75,000 to $100,000
The demand for design services tends to track with the fortunes of
the economy at large. In a strong economy, demand is high and design
firms will find it difficult to attract and retain talented and experienced
employees, especially at the junior level. In a downturn economy, the
opposite will occur, with jobs harder to come by and interior designers
tending to stay in a position rather than transferring to another firm.
The BLS projects that employment of interior designers of all types
is likely to grow faster than the average for all other occupations
through the year 2008. Nonetheless, competition for better-paying design
jobs will be keen. Interior designers who are better educated and have
strong business skills, as well as talent and perseverance, are likely
to fare best.
For more detailed information about the design professions compiled
by the U.S. Department of Labor, click
here to connect to the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
1 - Program Components | 2
-Sample Design Process | 3
- Interior Design Disciplines
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