What is the Average Interior Designer Salary?

In many states, becoming an interior designer requires 2-5 years of schooling, over 3,000 hours of work experience, and passing the NCIDQ exam. Before you go through all that work, it’s essential to know what interior design salary to expect.

Here’s a look at average interior designer salaries and factors that affect pay.

Average Interior Designer Salary

What is an Interior Designer's Salary

In the United States, the average interior design salary is $53,190. Entry-level interior designers earn a starting pay of around $44,000, while those with 20+ years of experience earn, on average, about $63,000 per year.

Location can play a big part in what an interior designer earns. For example, the median yearly salary in New York is $63,000, with experienced designers making close to $80,000. In San Francisco, the median pay is $74,000 per year, with experienced designers earning an average of $104,000.

If you live in a more rural area or the midwest, expect your interior design salary to be closer to or below the national average. For example, in Cincinnati, Oh, median pay falls to only $46,000 per year, and in Scranton, Pennsylvania, an interior designer’s salary drops to $38,000 per year.

Here’s a look at the median salary for interior designers in other popular cities:

  • Las Vegas – $54,000
  • Seattle – $63,000
  • Pittsburgh – $54,000
  • Nashville– $53,000
  • Dallas– $54,000
  • Indianapolis – $49,000

What Affects Interior Design Salaries?

The top factors affecting interior design salaries include location, education or certifications, specialty, and whether the designer works as an independent contractor or for a design firm.

  • Interior designers specializing in commercial design often have higher salaries, especially when employed by a design firm.
  • Interior designers with a certification from the NCIDQ will (in general) have more job opportunities than those without one.
  • Working as an independent contractor can mean a higher hourly rate, but finding enough client work can prove challenging.
  • Interior designers in large cities like New York or LA will receive a higher salary than those in less populated areas.

Working as an Independent Contractor vs. Working for a Design Firm

Average starting salaries for interior designers at a design firm range from $34,000 to $53,000, depending on the firm’s size and location. These salaries work out to $16 – $26 per hour.

Self-employed interior designers can charge from $50 – $500 per hour, depending on experience, demand, and location. But, for beginner self-employed interior designers, it can be hard to find enough client work to earn a full-time living. 

Interior Designer vs. Design Architect Salary

If you have a hard time choosing between a career in interior design or architecture, the salary might sway you.

The average national salary for a design architect is $66,000, and those with 20+ years of experience earn $105,000. Compare that to the average interior design salary of about $53,000, with experienced designers making an average of $63,000 per year.