Interior decorators can work in a variety of industries. Let’s face it – anything can be decorated, and it takes a true professional to be able to transform a plain office space or unfinished basement into a cozy space.
So what can you expect to earn as you begin your career as an interior decorator? Follow along to see how much you should be earning, and how you can grow your clientele (and income)!
In your first year in the interior decorating game, you’ll focus on building your experiences and client base. Advertise your decorating services to your friends, family, and colleagues. They’re around to support you in your journey to becoming a interior decorator—every beginner needs their guinea pigs!
Don’t discount your early experiences, though. You may have strong personal relationships with your loved ones, but you also need experience building professional relationships. In many ways, building professional relationships with personal friends is a great exercise. You’ll learn how to separate your personal habits from professional practice.
You may feel obliged to offer discounts to friends and acquaintances. This rings true for every professional, and especially when you don’t have many high-profile jobs under your belt. But don’t be so quick to undervalue your skills! It’s a slippery slope from offering a discount to your friend to having them recommend you because of your “low prices”.
A reasonable salary for a new interior decorator would be anywhere from $30-45,000. You may be entry-level, but that doesn’t mean you’re not qualified for the job! You have the know-how and creativity to build beautiful designs, so you should be compensated appropriately.
This also means that your salary has the potential to grow a lot as you gain more experience.
These are the years for priming your career path. You’ll be looking for stepping stones to the jobs you really want as an interior decorator. From day one, you should be spreading the word about your decorating business – which means networking and promoting yourself online! If people don’t know who you are, it will be way more difficult to get hired (and gain the experience you need!).
By your fifth year as a professional interior decorator, you should be earning an average of $20-30 per hour. Now, this depends on how much you work per week, and how much you’re charging for your decorating services. For example, it’s way easier to make $30/hour while working as an interior decorator for a film set or a big corporation than it is working for local boutiques or restaurants. It’s not impossible to make this much working locally, but you’ll really need to stick to your prices!
By now, you’ve probably dipped your toes into a variety of different specialized gigs. You should be able to start picking and choosing the interior decorating jobs you want. This means you need to decide which branch of the design industry you want to stick with and which ones you don’t enjoy as much.
We highly recommend being trained in other specialities before you start offering new services. You can absolutely specialize in more than one field in the interior decorating industry. But some bright-eyed designers try to take on too much before they’ve secured their hold on the industry. Find your niche and stick to your guns before you start expanding your design services!
Realistically, you should be at the high end of an interior decorator’s salary prior to embarking on new design specializations. So, if you’re a residential interior decorator, you should be earning approximately $50-65,000 per year – possibly more if you land some higher-end clients or work extra hours!
Your professional portfolio is probably brimming with too many projects to feature! What’s next for you?
It’s time to branch out! The number one rule of any career is to never stop learning. Take as many seminars and design courses as you can. What other design paths tickle your fancy? Have you dreamed about working with celebrities? How about becoming a color consultant for companies and big name brands? The world is your oyster, and you should aim for top-level jobs.
With multiple certifications and an extensive career history, you’ll be able to impress any client that comes your way. We can’t stress enough how important it is to get your name out there – attend conferences and national expos, and promote yourself on social media as much as possible. The more people see your name, the more you’ll be talked about.
Once you get your name and designs in front of a high-profile client, the rest will be history! Your annual income as an interior decorator can top $70,000. This won’t come without hard work, but your creativity and talent will put you on the map.