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What Are Some High Paying Interior Design Careers?

Interior design combines creativity with analytical skills to create safe, functional, and aesthetically pleasing interiors for a variety of clients in a number of specialties. Read on to discover what it takes to become an interior designer, common specialties in the field, and some of the highest paying interior design careers.

Highest Paying Interior Design Jobs

Interior designers can work for various types of clients in a number of industries. Their education, experience, where they work, and who hires them. Below are some of the highest paying interior design jobs.

Government Interior Designers

Interior designers hired by the federal executive branch of the U.S. government are responsible for creating interiors for various government-owned-and-operated buildings. They not only create utilitarian and aesthetically pleasing workspaces but also public spaces within these buildings, such as lobbies, gardens and cafeterias. Sometimes they may be hired to repair or remodel buildings to keep up with modern aesthetics and technologies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for interior designers in this industry is $81,100.

Corporate Interior Designers

Corporate designers usually work for private companies. They design the interiors for a variety of professional workplaces that can range from small offices to companies with large headquarters. They ensure the interior meets safety codes and is as efficient as possible for employees. They may also incorporate the company's brand or logo into their designs if instructed. According to Glassdoor, corporate/commercial interior designers have an average base pay of $51,775, and salaries can go as high as $70,000.

Healthcare Interior Designers

Healthcare designers develop doctor's offices, hospitals, clinics, and other health-centered buildings. They use evidence-based design to create a space for medical professionals to efficiently practice and for patients to be comfortable. They must also abide by safety and insurance codes. According to ZipRecruiter, the national average salary for healthcare interior designers is $70,108.

Residential Interior Designers

Residential designers either work with a firm or freelance and are hired to design the interior for homes. Some projects will focus only on one room while others will focus on an entire house or other residential buildings. Residential designers typically choose color swatches, floor materials, and other decorative patterns. Some projects include outdoor living spaces as well. According to PayScale.com, which compiles self-reported salary data, the average salary for residential interior designers is $47,990. However, more experience can mean higher-paying projects, and PayScle reports salaries as high as $69,000.

Sustainable Designers

Sustainable designers provide environmentally sustainable alternatives to common design products, such as using bamboo or cork for floors. They suggest design strategies that can improve air quality and water and enhance a building's energy efficiency. Sustainable designers can obtain certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design from the U.S. Green Building Council. Glassdoor reports an average salary of $61,646 for sustainable interior designers.

Interior Design Salary By State

Interior design salaries can vary from state to state. According to the BLS, interior designers in California and Arkansas saw average annual salaries of $68,400 and $66,840 in 2018, respectively, while designers in Alaska brought home $71,150 and professionals in Rhode Island made $75,110. The top-earning state for interior designers wasn't a state at all: $79,230 was the average salary for those in Washington, D.C.

Interior Design Requirements

Interior designers typically need a bachelor's degree to enter the field. This degree can be in interior design, architecture, or a related field. However, a different bachelor's degree may be accepted as long as an individual has taken the required interior design courses(info), has a license, and has related work experience. Licensure requirements vary by state; some states allow individuals to label themselves as interior designers without a license while other states require they do have a license.

Interior design certification(info) can be obtained by taking the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam. Individuals in California must take an exam from the California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC), which requires its applicants to have a mix of relevant education and experience.