California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Interior Designers in California

May also be called: Interior Design Consultants; Certified Kitchen Designers; Commercial Interior Designers; Interior Decorators; and Interior Design Coordinators

What Would I Do?

Interior Designers plan, design, and furnish interiors of residential, commercial, or industrial buildings. They usually work directly with clients and must consider their requirements, tastes, preferences, and budget. They must keep form, color, scale, and arrangement in balance and, at the same time, be concerned with utility, construction, economy, and client satisfaction. Designers should be familiar with the nature of woods, textiles, and decorating products, such as paint and wallpaper.

The work environment is usually quite pleasant; however, much time is spent away from the office, meeting with clients, contractors, or shopping. Interior Designers must drive in all types of weather and some work in buildings under construction. They often carry heavy, bulky sample books and sometimes need to climb ladders.

Will This Job Fit Me?

This job would appeal to someone who is organized and pays attention to detail, has good interpersonal skills, and can think creatively.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Salaries vary widely by type of employer, amount of experience, and reputation of the individual. Those who work in retail stores usually earn a commission, which can be irregular. Designers who work in large specialized design and architectural firms earn higher and more stable salaries. Salaried Interior Designers usually earn higher and more stable incomes than self-employed or freelance Designers. However, incomes of self-employed and freelance Designers vary with their talent, business ability, reputation, and type of clientele.

The median wage in 2017 for Interior Designers in California was $57,943 annually, or $27.86 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

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Annual Wages for 2017Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2017 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Benefits vary for Interior Designers. Large firms generally provide paid holidays, vacation, sick leave, health insurance, and retirement plans. Self-employed Designers must provide their own benefits and retirment.

What is the Job Outlook?

Designers are in high demand in the health care industry because of an anticipated increase in facilities that will accommodate the aging population. Demand for Designers is also high in the hospitality industry – hotels, resorts, and restaurants – due to an expected increase in tourism.

How Do I Qualify?

To succeed, an Interior Designer must expect competition and must possess talent, personality, and an ambitious nature. Years of experience and training are needed in order to advance. A beginning Interior Designer must take jobs that offer basic experience and endure long hours and difficult clients. Good computer skills and experience with drawing software programs are a necessity.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Most Interior Designers either own or work in interior decorating firms or work for large retail stores or architectural firms. In addition, Designers can locate jobs through other people in the industry, professional affiliations, or advertisements in trade journals. Newspaper classified ads also provide a helpful resource for local job openings.  Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Learn More About Interior Designers