Interior Design Career Outlook

Find out what to expect in your interior design career.

interior designer reviewing swatch catalogAccording to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment for interior designers will continue to grow at a rate of 4 percent through 2024, which is slower than average.

National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. While all this is good news for aspiring interior designers, students should prepare themselves to face a competitive job market.

If you find the variety, flexibility and creativity of an interior design job appealing, you’ll be happy to know that this is no one-size-fits-all career. Getting the right interior design education and experience will give you an advantage.

Career Paths

You can customize your interior design career to fit your interests and working style. Here are some things to consider:

Self Employment vs. Design Firms

Many interior designers are self-employed or do contract work on top of their jobs at design firms. When deciding where you want to work, you must evaluate the risks and rewards for yourself.

  • Work Hours – If you are self-employed or work for a small firm, you are more likely to work flexible hours as you adjust your schedule around your clients’ needs and deadlines. If you start your interior design career in a large design firm, you will probably have more predictable hours.
  • Environment – Large design firms may have the resources for a more comfortable work environment and state-of-the-art equipment. They also have established connections with related firms and specialists. This can be an important consideration for anyone starting an interior design career.
  • Clients – If you are self-employed, you may have more say in which jobs you take; however, you are responsible for finding your own clients and connections.

Interior Design Career Specialties

As your interior design career progresses, you may discover a preference for one type of interior design over another. You can specialize in designing for corporate settings, restaurants, hotels, and hospitals or other health care facilities, or you may decide to focus on residential design. You may even narrow your focus further to kitchens or bathrooms, for example.

If you like choosing colors and fabrics, but would rather not handle the nitty-gritty details, such as safety codes, you may want to be an interior decorator rather than an interior designer. Although many people use the terms interchangeably, interior decorating is less technical than interior design.

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