Senior-level designers and architects are responsible for all project deliverables as well as maintaining the project schedule. They are tasked with managing all technical aspects of a project, collaborating with the project managers and design team members on design presentations, as well as project concepting, development, and execution. They should be adept at space planning, finish selection, product/furniture specification, and budgeting. Besides a bachelor’s degree in architecture or design, senior-level design professionals should have strong interpersonal skills; experience with graphic presentations, 3D renderings, and construction drawings; and proficiency in software such as AutoCAD, 2D/3D software, Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.
Base salaries for interior design jobs at this level usually range from $50,000 to $90,000—although a senior interior designer at Boston-based Elkus Manfredi, for example, earns $134,000, according to payscale.com, so salaries are commensurate with experience and can vary widely. And additional compensation includes the potential for bonuses (roughly $10,000 annually), profit sharing (up to $8,000), and commission (up to ($22,000).
Job Titles: Project Manager, Planner, Strategist
Median Salary: $82,000 (IIDA)
The scope of a project manager’s role includes responsibility for all aspects of planning, budgeting, and execution for interior design projects. PMs must create a detailed project plan, including technical models and estimates for time and materials, and collaborate with design team members to execute the project on time and within budget. Impeccable interpersonal skills are required so that the PMs can negotiate with construction crews, interface with clients, and work within the design team. Excellent time management skills, leadership abilities, and attention to detail position a PM for success.
It’s worth noting that there’s a huge discrepancy between the IIDA’s estimate of interior design project managers’ salaries at $82,000 and the findings recorded by payscale.com, which lists $61,010 as the average, with $40,000 for the 10th percentile and $93,000 for the 90th percentile. Additional compensation includes potential bonuses up to $10,000, profit sharing up to $12,000, and commissions up to $35,000—so it seems the way for PMs to make the big bucks is through commission, which inches the salary up toward six figures. The position typically requires a bachelor’s degree in interior design, architecture, or a related field and at least five years of experience, although a master’s degree, relevant certification, and 10 years of experience are preferred, along with proficiency in software for design, graphics, and project planning.
Job Titles: Designer, Architect, Project Designer, Interior Architect
Median Salary: Architects: $65,500 (IIDA), Designers: $55,000 (IIDA)
Architects and designers must be adept at working on a project from start to finish, monitoring progress, collaborating with a team, consulting with clients, and meeting project deadlines on schedule and within budget. The minimum education requirement for a designer or architect is a bachelor’s degree, while additional schooling may be preferred or required. Previous experience in a related role; proficiency in AutoCAD and other relevant software, graphic design, and architectural drawings; and finely honed interpersonal skills are expected.
For a design professional at this level, the salary varies depending on title, education, and experience. According to the IIDA’s findings, median base salary overall for design professionals with an associate’s, bachelor’s, or doctorate degree is holding steady at $69,000, with a slightly higher median base salary ($72,000) being reported among those with a master’s degree.
Job Titles: Junior Designer, Intern, Intern Interior Designer, Interior Design Assistant, Designer, Intern Architect, Architectural Assistant, Architectural Designer, Junior Architect