Interior Design vs Architecture Salary Battle: Who Wins?

Interior design salaries and architecture salaries vary widely depending on factors such as location, experience, and type of industry. Interior design and architecture are two distinct fields that focus on different aspects of design, but they often get confused with each other.

While architecture emphasizes the functionality and structural aspects of a building, interior design focuses on creating aesthetic and functional spaces inside the building. Both professions require creativity, analytical abilities, and attention to detail. In terms of salary, the median annual wage for interior designers in the United States was $56,040 in May 2020, while the median annual wage for architects was $81,440.

However, salaries can vary considerably depending on factors like location, work experience, and expertise. So, let’s unpack this comparison in more detail.

The Battle Begins

The battle for a higher salary between interior design and architecture is real. These professionals play a significant role in shaping our built environment with distinct yet overlapping skill sets. While both fields require creativity and technical expertise, architecture generally commands higher salaries due to the longer educational path and more comprehensive responsibilities.

Comparative salaries: interior design vs architecture

Defining the Key Components

Interior design and architecture are two separate yet interrelated fields that require creativity, innovation, and a keen eye for detail. Interior design deals with the aesthetics, functionality, and overall aesthetic appeal of a space, while architecture concentrates on structural and technical aspects that make up a building. Both fields require highly skilled professionals who can bring a client’s vision to life.

Understanding the Conflict

When it comes to choosing between interior design and architecture, one of the significant factors that people consider is the salary expected from either field. Architecture salaries are generally higher than interior designers. Salaries primarily depend on the level of degree and experience; architects with higher degrees and more considerable experience tend to earn more money. However, interior designers can catch up on salaries based on specialization in high-value fields such as healthcare, hospitality, or retail.

Comparing Salaries

To get a better understanding of the salary differences between the two fields, here’s a quick comparison:

Type of JobAverage Salary (Per Annum)
Architecture Graduate$58,000 – $88,000
Architect$72,000 – $107,000
Interior Design Graduate$30,000 – $50,000
Interior Designer$35,000 – $71,000
Specialized Interior Designer$50,000 – $95,000

An Overview of the Jobs

Interior designers typically earn a lower salary compared to architects due to the differences in their education and licensing requirements. While both professions focus on designing spaces, architects often earn a higher salary because of their expertise in the technical aspects of creating blueprints and overseeing construction.

When it comes to designing and building structures, two professions that stand out are interior design and architecture. While they may seem interchangeable, each has its unique expertise, and they play different roles in constructing a building. Along with this difference, their salaries also vary, and it’s essential to understand what they entail before delving into their respective salaries.

What Does An Interior Designer Do?

An interior designer works on the interior spaces of a building and creates functional and aesthetic designs. They specialize in selecting colors and fabrics, lighting, and furniture. They also have the experience to know the best way to utilize the available space. An essential role of interior designers is to ensure that the space is comfortable and intuitive to navigate. They also work closely with architects to come up with plans that satisfy the client’s needs and aesthetic preferences.

What Does An Architect Do?

On the other hand, architects draw up plans for buildings and other structures, focusing on the design and functionality of a structure. They not only choose the building’s materials but also provide insight into how the structure will sit within the environment it’s in. They design structures that are functional, safe, and sustainable. Architects’ work also has a significant influence on how the building fits in with the surrounding landscape and community. When it comes to salaries, Architects earn a median salary of $80,750 yearly, while interior designers take home an average of $56,040 annually.

However, these figures don’t tell the entire story, as both professions’ salaries vary depending on their experience, location, and sector. While architects earn a higher salary, their job requires more education and training, and they bear more responsibility. In contrast, the interior designer’s role involves creating aesthetically pleasing and functional living spaces that are also affordable.

Educational Qualification & Training

Educational qualifications and training play a significant role in determining the salary of both interior designers and architects. While both professions require a bachelor’s degree, architects generally earn higher salaries due to the complexity and technicality of their job requirements.

Area of expertise, location, and experience level also affect the earning potential of both professions.

Interior Designers and Architects play a vital role in shaping the spaces we live, work, and play in. Due to the specialized nature of their responsibilities, both of these professions demand a specialized level of education, training, and skill set. Thus, today, we will be discussing the educational qualifications and training essential for these professionals.

Education and Training Required for Interior Designers

Interior designers are responsible for creating functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces. They need to have an eye for design, and color schemes, and understand the technical aspects of design. For aspiring interior designers, a degree program accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) or a similar accreditation body is essential. An associate’s or bachelor’s degree program in Interior Design introduces students to key design concepts while preparing them for a professional career as an Interior Designer. Key courses include:

  • Design Fundamentals
  • Drafting and Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
  • Color Theory
  • Space Planning and Functional Design

In addition, Interior Designers are often required to be licensed, and individual states have different licensing requirements.

Education and Training Required for Architects

Architects are responsible for designing and overseeing the construction of buildings and structures. They need to have a strong understanding of engineering, mathematics, and design. To become a licensed architect, candidates must complete a professional degree accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). An accredited architecture program typically takes five years to complete and includes coursework in:

  • Architectural Theory
  • Building Design and Structures
  • Construction Materials and Methods
  • CAD and Building Information Modeling (BIM)

After graduation, potential architects must participate in a three-year internship and pass the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) to become licensed. In conclusion, both Interior Designers and Architects require specialized education and training to become successful in their respective fields. While the former requires a degree in Interior Design, the latter requires a professional degree in Architecture.

Earning Potential of Architects vs. Interior Designers

When it comes to career options in the field of space design, both architects and interior designers play a crucial role in shaping buildings and spaces. However, the earning potential of these two professions may differ based on various factors such as experience, location, and the scope of work.

Architects Salary

Architects are responsible for designing the overall structure of a building while keeping in mind the functionality, safety, and aesthetic aspects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for architects was $82,320 in May 2020. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $48,020, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $139,120.

Interior Designers Salary

Interior designers are responsible for designing the interior spaces of both residential and commercial buildings, including the furniture, color schemes, and lighting. The median annual wage for interior designers was $56,040 in May 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,490, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $96,840.

It’s important to note that salaries for both architects and interior designers can vary greatly based on their level of experience, their location, and the type of projects they work on. For example, architects who work for larger firms or who specialize in high-end commercial or residential projects may earn significantly more than those who work on smaller projects or for smaller firms.

Factors that Affect Earning Potential

The earning potential of interior designers and architects can vary due to several factors like experience, geographical location, education, and job market demand. However, architects generally have a higher salary due to their advanced education and specialized training in designing buildings and structures.

Earnings disparity: interior design versus architecture

When it comes to choosing a career path in the construction industry, architecture, and interior design are two of the top choices. Both are rewarding careers in their own right, but when it comes to earning potential, several factors come into play. The salary of an architect or interior designer greatly varies based on different factors including location, experience, and reputation of the company.


Location plays a significant role in determining the salary of an interior designer or architect. The cost of living and demand for these services vary greatly from one location to another. For instance, the earning potential for an architect based in London is higher than that of an architect based in a rural area. Urban areas typically offer a higher cost of living allowance and have more demand for construction projects, leading to higher salaries for architects and interior designers.


Experience is key when it comes to earning potential in architectural and interior design careers. As an architect or interior designer gains more experience in the field, they will become more valuable to employers and clients, leading to increased income opportunities. An entry-level architect or interior designer’s salary is lower compared to that of a mid-level or senior-level professional. Therefore, aspiring architects and interior designers need to look for opportunities to work with seasoned professionals who can help them gain experience and rise through the ranks.

Reputation of the Firm

The reputation of a firm in the construction industry is another factor that can affect an architect or interior designer’s earning potential. A firm with a solid reputation in the industry is more likely to attract high-end clients with big projects, leading to increased income potential. It is therefore essential for architects and interior designers to work with well-established firms that have an excellent reputation in the industry, as this will invariably lead to higher earnings.

Future Outlook

The future outlook for Interior Design vs Architecture salary is optimistic, with both fields experiencing steady growth. While the salaries for both careers can vary significantly depending on factors like location and experience, the demand for these skilled professionals is expected to remain high in the years ahead.

The decision to pursue a career in either architecture or interior design is often based on personal interests and preferences. While both professions focus on design, the type of projects, scope of work, and earning potential can differ. Although salary isn’t the only factor driving career choices, it is a crucial aspect to consider when making a decision. In this article, we will discuss future outlooks for interior design and architecture as well as explore the trends influencing the industry.

Trends in the Architecture Industry

Architecture is a dynamic industry often influenced by advancements in technology, environmental consciousness, and urbanization. The industry is expected to grow at an average rate of 4% from 2019-2028, based on the data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This growth is due to the need for modern infrastructure, smart buildings, and sustainable design as well as the growing demand for affordable housing. As the industry embraces digital tools such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) and 3D printing, architects’ roles are evolving to focus more on project management, client engagement, and collaboration with interdisciplinary teams. According to the BLS, the median salary for architects was $80,750 per year as of May 2020, with the highest 10% earning more than $139,120.

Trends in the Interior Design Industry

The interior design industry is seeing a significant shift towards user-centered design driven by the desire for functional, inclusive, and sustainable spaces. With a growing focus on wellness, safety, and ergonomics, interior designers’ roles are evolving to incorporate more research-based design principles and data-driven decisions. The industry is expected to grow at an average rate of 4% from 2019-2028, according to the BLS. This growth is primarily driven by the development of new properties, the renewal of existing spaces, and the increasing demand for sustainable and smart design. According to the BLS, the median salary for interior designers was $57,060 per year as of May 2020, with the highest 10% earning more than $98,220.

Making the Ultimate Choice

As a student or professional looking to build a career in the field of design, it is essential to weigh the pros and cons of different paths. Two major career paths that are often considered are interior design and architecture. Both careers are attractive in that they offer one the opportunity to work creatively, and are well compensated. However, when it comes down to it, many are left wondering which path is the best fit. Often, the deciding factor comes down to salary. In this article, we will examine the salary prospects for each path and explore how to make the ultimate choice.

The Decision-making Process

Before deciding which path to pursue, it is important to clarify your goals and interests. Both interior design and architecture require creative talent and a deep understanding of design principles, but they differ in their daily tasks and responsibilities.

Architects are responsible for designing entire structures, from laying out a building’s floor plan to determining where its electrical wires will be installed. They work closely with clients, contractors, and engineers to make sure their designs meet all necessary building codes and regulations.

Interior designers, on the other hand, are focused on the design of interior spaces. They select and arrange furniture, lighting, and flooring to create a functional and aesthetically pleasing environment. They work with clients to understand their needs, preferences, and budget to create a space that meets their needs.

Which One is the Right Fit for You?

Once you have a clear understanding of the differences between the two career paths, it’s important to assess your strengths and interests. Do you have a passion for creating large-scale structures that impact entire communities? Or do you prefer to focus on the details and the aesthetics of a building’s interior space?

Another consideration when making your choice is salary. Architecture generally pays more than interior design, but the two professions do have some similarities in terms of career growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for architects is around $80,750 per year, with the highest-paid architects earning over $139,750 annually. Interior designers, on the other hand, have a median yearly salary of $56,040, with the highest-paid professionals earning over $96,470 per year.

Ultimately, when deciding between pursuing a career in architecture or interior design, it comes down to assessing your skills and interests, as well as your long-term vision for your professional life.

If you’re still unsure which path to take, you might consider shadowing professionals in both career fields and researching the job market trends in each industry. It’s important to give yourself the time and resources to make an informed decision about your future.

Who Wins Between Interior Designers and Architects?

One of the most popular questions among those considering a career in architecture or interior design is whether one profession is better than the other. However, one definitive answer to this question can only be given by considering the salaries of architects and interior designers. So, who wins between interior designers and architects when it comes to salary?

Pay scales for interior designers and architects

When it comes to salaries, the deciding factor between interior designers and architects is dependent on various factors such as location, experience, and company size. Remember, the location of the firm where one is working affects the pay scale. Similarly, the level of experience, the projects an individual has worked on in the past, and the size of the company influence an employee’s salary.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2021, architects earned a median annual salary of around $84,200, while interior designers earned a median wage of around $56,040 per year, which is about a third less than what architects earn. Although it’s apparent that architects receive higher average pay, there are still several exceptions to this rule.

To determine whether an Interior Design salary is better than an Architecture salary, it’s important to consider the various factors mentioned above and the individual’s goals, interests, and skills. It’s also crucial to note that both architecture and interior design are highly competitive fields, and the pay gap between the two professions will continue to vary depending on the economic climate, the location, and the individual’s drive and ambition.


To conclude, choosing between a career in architecture or interior design comes down to personal preferences, skills, and requirements. Both professions have similar salaries but different work scopes and approaches towards creativity. It is important to research and explore both fields before making a final decision.

Whichever path is chosen, it is vital to keep learning and staying up-to-date with industry trends to achieve professional success.

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