As a home designer, there are a number of different career paths to take. 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 head into your career as an interior decorator? Follow along to see how much you should be earning, and how you can bring in more clients (and income!).

Year 1

In your first year as an interior decorator, you’ll mainly be building up your experience and client base. You’ll start off by working with just a few people, maybe even beginning in your friend’s home! Don’t discount this, however– you’ll need to familiarize yourself with building a professional relationship with friends and family. Sounds like a piece of cake, but any interior decorator knows that event client can be stubborn, no matter your personal relationship with them!

You’ll also 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, and 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.

Gaining experience as an interior decorator

Years 2-5

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, but are a bit out of your reach right now. From day one, you should be amping up your name in the 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 does depend on how much you work per week, and how much you’re charging for your design 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!

Years 6-8

With enough experience under your belt and a few 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.

Yes, you can definitely specialize in more than one field of interior decorating, but it’s easier to go step-by-step and make yourself the best before jumping to new areas. If you’re passionate about creating beautiful interiors for residential homes and like to focus on kitchens and bathrooms, then stick with that until you’re up to your ears in job offers! Once you gain such a high reputation as an interior decorator, it’s easy to convince people to let you stage their homes or implement Feng Shui principles.

We highly recommend being trained in other specialities before you start offering new services, though! You didn’t work this hard only to tarnish your brand by poorly staging homes for a local real estate agent.

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!

Kitchen design of certified interior decorator

Years 9+

All right, so you’re an experienced interior decorator and have a gorgeous, full portfolio of all your unique designs. Now what?

It’s time to branch out! The number one rule of any career is to never stop learning. 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.

Do you want to start your own interior decorating business? Find out everything you need to launch yourself to success!

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