Registration is now open for Greenbuild 2023 in Washington, DC   Register

Interior designer

Interior designers analyze, plan, develop, and manage non-structural designs for interior spaces. Their goal is to enhance the function, safety, and quality of the spaces, align with the customer's needs, vision and/or brand, meet applicable codes, and qualify for a building permit.

Quick facts: Interior designer
2021 Median Pay $60,340 per year; $29.01 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Number of Jobs, 2021 93,300
Job Outlook, 2021-31 No change
Employment Change, 2021-31 8,200
Source O*Net

Interior designers must be creative problem-solvers with good communication skills, able to draw (most typically with a computer-aided drafting or building-modeling program such as AutoCAD or Revit), read and edit construction documents. They also must be aware of building codes, inspection regulations, and other considerations, such as accessibility and fire-safety standards; and be able to collaborate effectively with other trades, such as architect, structural engineer, contractor, MEP engineer, lighting designer, acoustical engineer, and product vendors. Note that an interior designer, which most often works in the commercial field, is not the same profession as that of an interior decorator, which most often works in the residential field.

How to become an interior designer

Interior designers entering the occupation usually need a bachelor’s degree in any field, but programs in interior design are available at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree levels. Some colleges are accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. Coursework should include classes in interior design, drawing, and computer-aided drafting (CAD), codes, art history, color theory, construction documents, professional practice, lighting, space planning, two- and three-dimensional design, among others.

Requirements vary from state to state regarding licensure as an interior designer, so it’s best to understand what is necessary for your state. NCIDQ Certification is the industry's recognized indicator of proficiency in interior design principles. Important skills include creativity, visualization, interpersonal, detail orientation, and problem-solving.

  • Acoustical engineer
  • Architect
  • General contractor
  • LEED certification reviewer
  • Lighting designer
  • MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) engineer
  • Sales representative
  • Structural engineer

Education and resources

Access courses and resources to learn about green building and sustainability concepts related to interior design.

Online courses

Stay up to date on the latest developments in green building through access to online courses with an annual subscription to the USGBC course catalog.

Role on a LEED project

Interior designers play a significant role in green buildings through their designs that create efficient use of space, improve indoor environmental quality, and reduce the use of harmful materials. Their choices of materials, furniture, lighting, patterns, texture, and colors, as well as the floor plan layout and custom-casework designs, can reduce waste and increase health, efficiency, enjoyment, and productivity in the space.

LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all building types, LEED provides a framework for healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership.

Accessibility Tools