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Interior designers are responsible for much more than decorating. Whether in commercial, residential, or industrial spaces it’s important to have an understanding of the design, the clients needs, and the appropriate style. Interior designers work closely with other professionals, such as contractors and architects. 


What separates designers from decorators is the number of details that interior designers oversee. More than just choosing colors and fabrics; designers do the actual ordering, work with the budget, have knowledge of the materials, and oversee the installation. While an interior designer is hired for their knowledge of styles and personal vision, working with a client is about them balancing the clients taste with their own ideas and communicating successfully. It is very common for a designer to put the client’s tastes first, even when they don’t agree. 


Furthermore, there are different types of careers within interior design. Many designers focus solely on residential, while others work mainly with commercial properties, and there are some that do both. Deciding what area of design to specialize in requires understanding what differences exist between the two. Job satisfaction and income are key deciding factors when it comes to choosing an interior design career.


Commercial design professionals often have higher salaries and better benefits than those working in residential positions. However, there are reports that those specializing in residential actually have higher career satisfaction overall. It’s purely speculation, but perhaps those working residentially have more freedom to use their unique skillset and can explore greater design possibilities than their commercial counterparts.


When it comes to salary, depending on the specialty there are slight differences over time. While the recognition of expertise is noted in both specializations, the median salary increase between 10 and 20 years of designing is higher with those specializing in commercial. Commercial design professionals are more likely to work with large firms and the size of the company, as well as the geography can have a direct impact on the salary. Professionals working at large firms have higher salaries, regardless of which area of design they work in. However, designers that specifically work in luxury residential properties have even higher salaries than commercial professionals at large firms.


No matter what specialization a designer is in being accredited can increase one’s salary. This is especially true for commercial designers.


There is something to be said about the satisfaction of doing what one loves to do. When someone is passionate about their work, the work is going to be better. This couldn’t be more true in interior design. Every interior designer wants to align one’s career goals with a satisfying salary, and with the right amount of research and understanding professionals can choose the area of design that suits them best.