How Much Do Interior Designers Make in California? 2023 Salary Guide

How Much Do Interior Designers Make in California? 2023 Salary Guide

“Success in jobs and employment is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success in jobs and employment. If workers love their job title and what they do, they will be successful in jobs and employment.” – Albert Schweitzer

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If you have a passion for design and are considering a career in interior design, employment opportunities in California are abundant. It’s important to understand the earning potential and qualifications required for interior designer jobs in this area. Interior designers play a crucial role in creating aesthetically pleasing and functional office spaces, and their pay and compensation can vary based on several factors in different areas.

We will explore the various factors that influence compensation for interior designers in California, such as experience level, location, specialization, and education. These are important considerations when determining job opportunities and employment in this field. By understanding these factors, such as compensation and estimates, and accessing salary data, aspiring interior designers can better plan their careers and set realistic expectations regarding employment and pay.

So let’s dive into the world of interior design salaries in California and discover how you can turn your passion for graphic design into a rewarding profession with competitive pay and compensation. Explore the employment opportunities available for graphic designers in California and learn more about the lucrative compensation packages they offer.

Average salary of interior designers in California

Average annual salary for interior designers in California

Interior design is a lucrative field for graphic designers seeking employment in California. If you’re considering pursuing a career in this industry, you may be wondering about the pay and compensation you can expect to receive. Well, the average annual salary for employment in interior designers in California is quite impressive. The compensation estimates for these professionals in various areas are also noteworthy. According to recent employment data, wage estimates for graphic designers range from $55,000 to $85,000 per year. Of course, these estimates can vary depending on several factors such as employment data and wage.

Factors that contribute to variations in average salaries across the state

One of the main factors that contribute to variations in average wages and employment opportunities for entry level interior designers and graphic designers across different areas of California is the cost of living. Cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles have a higher cost of living compared to smaller towns or rural areas, which can impact employment opportunities and wages for entry level interior designers. As a result, employment opportunities for interior designers in these metropolitan areas tend to offer higher wages than those working elsewhere.

Another factor that affects an interior designer’s wage and employment is their level of experience. Entry-level designers typically earn less in employment than those with several years of experience under their belt. The wage for entry-level designers is lower compared to more experienced designers. Specialization within the field can also impact earnings. For example, employment opportunities for interior designers who specialize in high-end residential projects or commercial spaces often command higher fees and salaries compared to those who work on smaller residential projects.

Comparison of average salaries between different cities in California

There are some notable differences. As mentioned earlier, cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles offer higher earning potential for employment, especially for entry level interior designers, due to their higher cost of living. In San Francisco specifically, employment for interior designers can earn an average salary ranging from $70,000 to $100,000 per year.

On the other hand, cities like Sacramento or Fresno may have lower average salaries for interior designers due to their lower cost of living, but they still offer ample employment opportunities. However, it’s important to note that even though the numbers might be lower compared to larger cities, they still provide a comfortable living for entry level interior designers in these areas.

How experience and specialization impact an interior designer’s average salary

Experience plays a significant role in determining an interior designer’s average salary. As designers gain more experience and build a strong portfolio, they become more sought after by clients and employers, which can lead to higher-paying opportunities. Specializing in a specific niche or industry within interior design can also have a positive impact on earnings. For example, as an entry level interior designer, specializing in sustainable design or healthcare facilities can open doors to higher-paying projects.

Entry level interior designer salary in California

If you’re considering a career as an interior designer in California, one of the first questions that may come to mind is how much you can expect to earn as an entry-level professional. While salaries can vary depending on various factors, such as education and location, it’s essential to have a realistic understanding of the starting salary range for entry-level interior designers in California.

Starting Salary Range for Entry-Level Interior Designers in California

The starting salary range for entry-level interior designers in California typically falls between $40,000 and $55,000 per year. However, it’s important to note that the salary range for an entry level interior designer can vary based on several factors. For instance, individuals with a higher level of education or additional certifications may command a higher starting salary compared to those with only a basic degree.

Factors That Affect Entry-Level Salaries

Several factors can influence the entry-level salaries of interior designers in California. Two significant factors are education and location.

  1. Education: Higher levels of education, such as a master’s degree or specialized certifications, can often result in higher starting salaries. Employers value advanced knowledge and skills gained by an entry level interior designer through further education and are willing to offer increased compensation accordingly.
  2. Location: The city or region where an interior designer works also plays a role in determining their earning potential. Cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco tend to have higher living costs but also offer more job opportunities and potentially higher salaries.

Opportunities for Career Growth and Increased Earnings Over Time

While the starting salary for entry-level interior designers may not be exceptionally high, there is significant potential for career growth and increased earnings over time. As you gain experience and establish yourself within the industry, your earning potential will likely improve.

  1. Experience: Building experience within the field is crucial for advancing your career and increasing your earning potential as an interior designer. With each project completed successfully, you’ll gain valuable skills and a portfolio that showcases your abilities, making you more desirable to potential employers or clients.
  2. Specialization: Developing expertise in a specific area of interior design, such as residential or commercial design, can also lead to higher-paying opportunities. By focusing on a niche market, you can position yourself as an expert and potentially command higher fees for your services.

Importance of Gaining Experience and Building a Portfolio

To increase your entry-level salary prospects as an interior designer in California, it’s crucial to gain experience and build a strong portfolio. Employers often look for candidates who can demonstrate their skills through past projects and examples of their work.

  1. Internships: Taking on internships or apprenticeships while studying or shortly after graduation can provide valuable hands-on experience and help you establish connections within the industry.
  2. Freelancing: Consider taking on freelance projects to build your portfolio and gain practical experience. Working with real clients allows you to showcase your ability to deliver results.

Interior designer salary in Los Angeles, California

average salary for interior designer in california

Average annual salary for interior designers specifically in Los Angeles

So, you’re curious about how much interior designers make in the sunny state of California? Well, let’s zoom in on one of its most vibrant cities: Los Angeles.You’ll be pleased to know that it tends to be higher than the national average.

According to recent data, the average annual salary for interior designers in Los Angeles is around $66,000. Keep in mind that this figure can vary depending on factors such as experience level, education, and specialization within the field. So if you have a knack for creating stunning spaces and want to pursue a career as an interior designer in LA, there’s definitely potential for a rewarding paycheck.

Comparison of Los Angeles salaries with other cities in California

Now that we’ve established the average salary range for interior designers in Los Angeles, let’s compare it with other cities across California. While LA may seem like the land of glitz and glamour, it’s important to note that salaries can differ from city to city within the state.

For instance:

  • San Francisco: The average annual salary for interior designers here is slightly higher than that of LA at around $69,000.
  • San Diego: Interior designers can expect an average annual salary of approximately $60,000.
  • Sacramento: The capital city offers an average annual salary of roughly $56,000.

As you can see, while there are variations between these cities’ salaries, they all tend to fall within a similar range. However, keep in mind that living expenses also play a significant role when considering your earnings potential.

Influence of industry demand and cost of living on salaries in Los Angeles

When determining how much an interior designer makes in Los Angeles or any other city for that matter, two crucial factors come into play: industry demand and the cost of living.

In Los Angeles, where the demand for interior designers is relatively high due to the city’s thriving entertainment and design industries, salaries tend to be more competitive compared to other parts of California. The cost of living in LA is also higher than the national average, which further impacts salary expectations.

However, it’s important to note that these factors can fluctuate over time and may vary depending on economic conditions and trends within the design industry.

Potential benefits and drawbacks of working as an interior designer in Los Angeles

Working as an interior designer in Los Angeles certainly has its perks but also comes with a few potential drawbacks. Let’s take a closer look:


  • Exciting opportunities: With LA being a hub for creativity and innovation, you’ll have access to diverse projects ranging from residential spaces to commercial establishments.
  • Networking possibilities: The city provides ample opportunities for networking with industry professionals, potentially opening doors to new collaborations and career growth.
  • Exposure to cutting-edge design trends: Being surrounded by a vibrant design community means you’ll stay up-to-date with the latest trends and techniques in the field.


  • Intense competition: Given the popularity of LA as a destination for aspiring designers, competition can be fierce. It’s essential to stand out from the crowd by honing your skills and building a strong portfolio.
  • Higher living costs: As mentioned earlier, living expenses in Los Angeles are higher than average. It’s crucial to consider these costs when assessing your potential earnings as an interior designer.

Job openings and career path for interior designers

The field of interior design offers a wide range of job opportunities across various industries. Whether you’re just starting out as an entry-level interior designer or looking to advance your career, there are plenty of avenues to explore within this creative profession.

Availability of job openings for interior designers across various industries

Interior designers are in demand in numerous sectors, including residential, commercial, hospitality, healthcare, and retail. Each industry presents unique challenges and opportunities for designers to showcase their creativity and expertise.

In the residential sector, interior designers work closely with homeowners to create functional and aesthetically pleasing living spaces. They collaborate with clients to understand their preferences, budget constraints, and lifestyle requirements. From selecting furniture and finishes to designing layouts that maximize space utilization, residential designers play a crucial role in turning houses into homes.

Commercial interior design focuses on creating functional and visually appealing work environments. Designers collaborate with architects and project managers to develop innovative design solutions that align with the company’s brand identity while optimizing productivity and employee well-being.

Hospitality design encompasses hotels, restaurants, resorts, and other leisure establishments. Interior designers in this field strive to create memorable experiences for guests by incorporating elements of comfort, luxury, and style into the overall design scheme.

Healthcare facilities require specialized knowledge in creating spaces that promote healing while adhering to strict regulations. Interior designers working in this sector must consider factors such as patient safety, accessibility for individuals with disabilities, infection control measures, and the integration of technology into the healthcare environment.

Retail design focuses on creating immersive shopping experiences that entice customers while maximizing sales potential. Designers collaborate with store owners to develop layouts that facilitate product visibility and easy navigation while reflecting the brand’s image.

Different career paths within the field of interior design

As an interior designer gains experience and expertise in specific areas of design specialization or industry sectors mentioned above they can pursue different career paths. Some common career paths within the field of interior design include:

  • Project Manager: Interior designers can transition into project management roles, overseeing the execution of design projects from conception to completion. They coordinate with clients, contractors, and suppliers to ensure smooth project delivery.
  • Design Consultant: Experienced designers may choose to work as consultants, providing expert advice on design concepts, space planning, material selection, and color schemes. They offer guidance to clients looking for professional input on their interior design projects.
  • Design Educator: Passionate about sharing knowledge and inspiring future designers? Becoming a design educator allows experienced professionals to teach aspiring interior designers in academic institutions or through workshops and seminars.

Opportunities for advancement and specialization within the profession

Interior design offers ample opportunities for advancement and specialization. As designers gain experience and build a strong portfolio, they can take on more complex projects or even establish their own design firms. Specializing in specific areas such as sustainable design, healthcare facilities, or hospitality can also open doors to niche markets and higher-paying opportunities.

However, it’s important to note that breaking into the industry or transitioning between sectors can be challenging. Building a solid network of contacts through internships, industry events, and online platforms can help aspiring or transitioning professionals navigate these challenges more effectively.

Senior interior designer earnings by seniority

Average earnings at different seniority levels within the field

Seniority plays a significant role. As designers gain more experience and expertise in their field, their earning potential tends to increase. In California, the average earnings of interior designers vary depending on their seniority level.

At the entry-level or junior position, interior designers can expect to earn a decent salary. On average, they may earn around $25-$30 per hour or approximately $50,000-$60,000 per year. However, as they progress in their careers and move up the ladder, their earnings have the potential to grow significantly.

Mid-level interior designers with a few years of experience under their belt can make an average hourly wage ranging from $35-$45 or an annual salary between $70,000 and $90,000. These professionals have gained valuable experience and skills that allow them to take on more complex projects and responsibilities.

Senior interior designers are those who have spent several years honing their craft and have earned a reputation for excellence in the industry. With this level of expertise comes higher compensation. The average hourly wage for senior interior designers can range from $50-$75 per hour or an annual salary between $100,000 and $150,000.

Factors influencing seniority-based pay increases

Several factors contribute to the increase in pay as interior designers progress through different seniority levels. One crucial factor is the accumulation of experience over time. As designers gain more hands-on experience working on various projects and building a portfolio of successful designs, they become more valuable assets to firms or clients seeking their services.

Another factor that influences pay increases is professional development and continuing education. By staying updated with current design trends, software advancements, and industry standards through workshops or certifications, interior designers enhance their skills and knowledge base. This continuous learning allows them to offer more specialized services, which can command higher fees.

The demand for experienced and skilled interior designers also plays a role in determining their earning potential. In California, where the design industry is thriving, there is a constant need for talented professionals who can create innovative and aesthetically pleasing spaces. This high demand drives up the salaries of senior interior designers.

Differences between mid-level, senior, and principal roles

As interior designers progress in their careers, they may have the opportunity to take on different roles within their field. These roles come with varying levels of responsibility and compensation.

Mid-level interior designers typically work under the guidance of more experienced professionals but still have some autonomy in their design decisions. They may be responsible for managing smaller projects or specific aspects of larger projects. Their focus is on executing designs rather than overseeing the entire process.

Senior interior designers have gained enough experience to take on more significant responsibilities. They often lead design teams, manage client relationships, and oversee multiple projects simultaneously. Their expertise allows them to provide guidance and mentorship to junior team members.

Principal or lead interior designers are at the top of the hierarchy within a firm or as independent practitioners. They are highly experienced professionals who take charge of major design projects from start to finish. Principals not only handle design aspects but also manage business operations, including client acquisition and financial management.

Potential benefits and responsibilities associated with senior positions

With increased seniority comes additional benefits and responsibilities for interior designers in California. Some potential benefits include:

  • Higher earnings: As mentioned earlier, senior interior designers have the potential to earn significantly higher salaries compared to those at lower levels.
  • Greater creative freedom: With experience comes trust from clients and employers, allowing senior designers more creative control over projects.
  • Leadership opportunities: Senior designers often have the chance to lead teams or mentor junior staff members.
  • Professional recognition: Achieving a senior position signifies expertise in the field, leading to increased professional recognition and respect.

However, along with these benefits, senior interior designers also bear greater responsibilities.

Comparing salaries with similar professions in California

Many aspiring designers wonder how much they can expect to make in California. While salary can vary based on factors such as experience, education, and location, it’s helpful to compare the earning potential of interior design with related professions like architecture or graphic design.

Salary Comparisons between Interior Design and Related Fields

  1. Architecture: Architects are responsible for designing and constructing buildings. They often collaborate with interior designers to create functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces. According to salary survey data, architects in California earn an average base salary ranging from $70,000 to $120,000 per year. This similar salary range suggests that both interior designers and architects have comparable earning potential.
  2. Graphic Design: Graphic designers specialize in creating visual content for various mediums such as websites, advertisements, and branding materials. While their work may not be directly related to interior design, there are overlapping skills such as color theory and composition. The average base salary for graphic designers in California ranges from $50,000 to $80,000 per year.

Differences Based on Education Requirements and Skill Sets

  1. Educational Requirements: Becoming an interior designer typically requires a bachelor’s degree in interior design or a related field. On the other hand, architects usually need a professional degree in architecture (Bachelor of Architecture or Master of Architecture) along with completing an internship program before becoming licensed practitioners.
  2. Skill Sets: Interior designers focus on creating functional and visually appealing spaces while considering factors like lighting, materials, and spatial arrangement. Architects possess a broader skill set that includes structural engineering knowledge and expertise in building codes and regulations.

Exploring Potential Career Switches or Dual Specializations

  1. Career Switches: If you’re already working as an architect or graphic designer but considering a career switch to interior design, it’s essential to evaluate the potential impact on your salary. While there may be similarities in the skill sets required, gaining related experience and additional qualifications can help increase your earning potential.
  2. Dual Specializations: Some professionals choose to pursue dual specializations, such as becoming both an architect and an interior designer. This combination of skills can open up opportunities for higher-paying projects and a more diverse client base.

Understanding Market Demand and Growth Projections

  1. Market Demand: The demand for interior designers is influenced by factors like population growth, economic conditions, and construction activity. California, with its booming real estate market and vibrant creative industries, offers ample opportunities for interior designers to find work.
  2. Growth Projections: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of interior designers is projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. This indicates a steady demand for skilled professionals in the field.

Understanding the earning potential of interior designers in California

Now that we have explored the average salary, entry-level positions, and even compared salaries with similar professions in California, you have a clearer picture of the earning potential for interior designers in the Golden State. It’s important to remember that these figures can vary based on factors such as location, experience, and specialization within the field. However, by gaining insights into different aspects of interior design salaries, you are better equipped to navigate your career path.

So what’s next? Armed with this knowledge, it’s time to take action and make informed decisions about your future as an interior designer in California. Consider networking with professionals in the industry to gain valuable insights and explore job openings that align with your goals. Keep honing your skills and expanding your portfolio to stand out from the competition. Remember, success is not just about how much you earn but also how much you love what you do.


How long does it take to become an interior designer?

Becoming an interior designer typically requires a bachelor’s degree in interior design or a related field. This program usually takes around four years to complete on a full-time basis.

Do I need a license to work as an interior designer in California?

Yes, if you want to call yourself an “interior designer” rather than an “interior decorator,” you need a license in California. To obtain a license, you must meet specific education requirements and pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam.

What skills are essential for success as an interior designer?

Some essential skills for interior designers include creativity, attention to detail, problem-solving abilities, strong communication skills, knowledge of design software tools, and understanding of building codes and regulations.

Is it necessary to specialize within the field of interior design?

While specializing is not mandatory, it can be beneficial for career growth and increasing earning potential. Specializations can range from residential or commercial design to sustainable design, healthcare design, or hospitality design.

How can I stay up-to-date with the latest trends in interior design?

To stay current with trends and industry developments, consider joining professional organizations such as the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) or International Interior Design Association (IIDA). Attend trade shows, workshops, and conferences related to interior design as well.

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