Interior Designers and Interior Decorators

Occupation:Interior Designers and Interior Decorators
Category:Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport

About the job

Nature of work:

Interior designers and interior decorators conceptualize and produce aesthetic, functional and safe designs for interior spaces in residential, commercial, cultural, institutional and industrial buildings. They are employed by architectural and interior design firms, retail establishments, construction companies, hospitals, airlines, hotel and restaurant chains, and other establishments, or they may be self-employed.

Job duties:
Interior designers and interior decorators perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Consult with clients to determine needs, preferences, safety requirements and purpose of space.
  • Develop detailed plans and 3-D models showing arrangement of walls, dividers, displays, lighting and other fixtures using computer-assisted design (CAD) software and graphics software.
  • Develop plans, elevations, cross sections and detailed drawings, and advise on selection of colours, finishes and materials, floor and wall coverings, window treatments, interior and exterior lighting, furniture and other items, taking into account ergonomic and occupational health standards.
  • Estimate costs and materials required and may advise on leasing, real estate and marketing.
  • Prepare plans and specifications for the final interior designs in accordance with current practices and codes.
  • Work in a multidisciplinary environment.
  • May direct site work crews and subcontractors.

Interior designers are experts in the area of interior architecture, construction materials and building codes. They may specialize in designing interiors for residential, commercial, institutional, cultural and industrial buildings and for aircraft, ships or trains, trade shows and exhibitions. Interior decorators may specialize in decorating residential or commercial interior spaces, home staging, colour consulting and home organizing.

Sample job titles:
  • decorating consultant
  • green design consultant - interior design
  • home decorating consultant
  • home organizer
  • interior decorator
  • interior design consultant
  • interior designer
  • project manager, interior design

To work in this field, a good sense of creativity and imagination are beneficial in interior space planning. You should have an understanding of artistic principles and be able to present that plan visually so that it can be communicated to the client. Self-discipline in meeting deadlines and a good business sense are also very important.

Job requirements:
Interior designers:
  • A university degree or college diploma in interior design is usually required.
  • The National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination may be required after six years of combined study and experience.
  • Certification by a provincial institute or association is required to use the designation Interior Design Consultant (IDC) in Nova Scotia.
Interior decorators:
  • A college certificate or diploma in interior decoration is usually required.
  • Membership in the Canadian Decorators' Association is available to qualified decorators.
Other considerations:

Interior designers work with computers for drafting, preparation of budgets and specifications, product searches, colour renderings and three-dimensional presentations for final product visualization. A good knowledge base of the various interior design disciplines is important for this group. A willingness to work outside normal business hours is required.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Limited

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “limited”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is below average when compared with other occupations in Nova Scotia. This is not a large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities may not be that frequent and jobseekers may face competition. The number employed in this occupation is expected to decline slightly over the next few years, which may affect the number of new opportunities available. With a large percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to be a key contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Interior Designers and Interior Decorators may either be working full-time or part-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs are typically permanent positions.

The median employment income for 49% of Interior Designers and Interior Decorators who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $34,631. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2016 Census)

OccupationEstimated employment in 2018Estimated change in employment between 2017 and 2019Estimated openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019Estimated rate of unemployment in 2018 Estimated hourly earnings in 2015 (learn more)Estimated annual earnings in 2015
Interior Designers and Interior Decorators300decline slightly10Low
Minimum: $12.50
Median: $17.60
Maximum: $24.04
Minimum: $2,141
Median: $26,430
Maximum: $65,983
Occupations in Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport11,000Moderate growth735Moderate
Minimum: $10.81
Median: $16.00
Maximum: $31.00
Minimum: $945
Median: $11,712
Maximum: $60,447
Interior Designers and Interior DecoratorsCompared to: Occupations in Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport
Percent employed full-time70%59%
Percent self-employed5%33%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentInterior Designers and Interior DecoratorsCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Cape Breton4%x13%$32,974
Annapolis Valley10%x13%$32,958
What are the workers like?
AgeInterior Designers and Interior DecoratorsCompared to: All Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport
% Employed% Employed
Median Age5238
GenderInterior Designers and Interior DecoratorsCompared to: Occupations in Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport
% Employed% Employed
EducationInterior Designers and Interior DecoratorsCompared to: All Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high school7.9%x10.2%$2,298
High school14.3%$22,35026.2%$7,127
Trades certificate3.2%x3.6%$13,575
College certificate or diploma44.4%$28,42920.3%$20,158
University certificate or diploma3.2%x1.7%$20,801
Bachelor's degree25.4%$30,63327.5%$19,705
University advanced certificate or diplomaN/Ax1.5%$18,274
Master's degreeN/A$33,4588.0%x
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometryN/Ax0.1%$11,741
Wage Disclaimer

Hourly earnings data are from the Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada. Data are not available for all occupations. Hourly earnings are calculated based on usual hours worked per week. This is how an annual salary, for instance, gets converted to an hourly rate. The data include full and part-time workers along with new and experienced workers. Self-employed workers are excluded.

Annual employment income data reported in the Work Prospects section, are from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada. Much of the data (around 70%) came directly from tax records. The data relates to the year 2010 and includes total wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.


Employment Requirements & Contacts

Interior Designer
Right to Title and Practice:This job is regulated and the job title is protected in Nova Scotia (you may not use this job title without holding a provincial licence). A licence shows that the holder has met provincial requirements and is required to work in this job.
Regulating body:
Interior Designers of Nova Scotia
PO Box 2042
Halifax, NS B3J 2Z1
Useful contacts:
Association of Interior Designers of Nova Scotia
PO Box 2042
Halifax, NS B3J 2Z1

Training Paths & Education

Program Name:Home furnishings and equipment installers
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the trades/college level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that prepares individuals to assist in home furnishings and decorations. These programs include courses in selecting, purchasing, designing and decorating; home furnishings and equipment; floral design; accessory construction; textiles; and upholstery.
See all institutions providing this program+
Eastern College - Halifax
6940 Mumford Road, Suite 111
Halifax, NS B3L 0B7
(902) 423-3933
Success College
800 Sackville Drive
Lower Sackville, NS B4E 1R8
(902) 865-8283
Program Name:Interior design
Education Level:This program may be offered at the college, trades, or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program in the applied visual arts that prepares individuals to apply artistic principles and techniques to the professional planning, designing, equipping, and furnishing residential and commercial interior spaces. These programs include courses in computer applications drafting and graphic techniques; principles of interior lighting, acoustics, systems integration, and colour coordination; furniture and furnishings; textiles and their finishing; the history of interior design and period styles; basic structural design; building codes and inspection regulations; and applications to office, hotel, factory, restaurant and housing design.
There are no schools in Nova Scotia offering this program.
Program Name:Project management
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the college or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that prepares individuals to apply quantitative and qualitative knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to manage projects in a wide range of fields and occupations. These programs include courses in project planning, risk management, cost and time management, contracts and procurement, accounting, statistics, decision making, and human resources.
See all institutions providing this program+
Dalhousie University
Office of the Registrar
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
(902) 494-2450
Additional resources: