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Interior Designer

Kaitātai o-Roto

Alternative titles for this job

Interior designers plan, design, decorate and furnish spaces in residential, commercial, retail and leisure environments.


Interior designers with up to five years' experience usually earn

$45K-$70K per year

Senior interior designers with more than five years' experience usually earn

$70K-$95K per year

Source: Hays, 2018.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as an interior designer are average due to stable numbers of people in the role.


Pay for interior designers varies depending on experience and where they work.

  • Interior designers with up to five years' experience usually earn between $45,000 and $70,000 a year.
  • Senior interior designers with more than five years' experience can earn between $70,000 and $95,000.

Self-employed interior designers may earn more than this.

Source: Hays, 'The FY 18/19 Hays Salary Guide: Salary and Recruitment Trends', 2018.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Interior designers may do some or all of the following:

  • discuss design ideas and provide advice to clients
  • analyse clients' requirements
  • plan and design building interiors, rooms, shops, and residential and leisure spaces
  • plan interior infrastructure such as lighting, air-conditioning and communication cabling
  • prepare drawings, samples and decorating instructions
  • advise on hiring tradespeople
  • design furniture or fittings
  • buy and arrange furniture and fittings
  • work with architects and other contractors.

Skills and knowledge

Interior designers need to have knowledge of:

  • past and present styles of architecture, design and decorating
  • interior materials such as paint, fabrics and glass
  • building regulations
  • how to analyse a client's requirements and create a design to fit
  • design, drawing and presentation skills.

Working conditions

Interior designers:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may need to work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines
  • work in design studios and on-site at private, public and commercial properties.

Entry requirements

There are no specific requirements to become an interior designer. However, employers usually prefer you to have a Bachelor's degree in interior architecture, interior design, industrial design or spatial design.

Secondary education

NCEA Level 3 is required to enter tertiary training. Useful subjects include history of art, design and visual communication (graphics), maths, physics, and painting, sculpture, photography and printmaking combined.

Personal requirements

Interior designers need to be:

  • imaginative and creative
  • accurate, with an eye for detail
  • good communicators
  • persuasive and able to negotiate
  • able to relate to a wide range of people
  • able to inspire confidence in their clients
  • able to accept criticism.

Useful experience

Useful experience for interior designers includes:

  • any work related to rebuilding or refitting building interiors
  • industrial design or other design work
  • architecture or architectural draughting work.

Find out more about training

Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Opportunities for interior designers are average as the occupation is small with limited job vacancies. There is high competition for vacancies when they arise. 

According to the Census, 1,815 interior designers worked in New Zealand in 2018.

Opportunities best for qualified interior designers in cities

You chances of securing a job as an interior designer are best if you have a degree in design.

There are more job opportunities in commercial interior design. This type of work is mainly found in the larger cities of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. 

Types of employers varied

Interior designers may work for:

  • interior design or architecture practices
  • construction consultancies
  • design showrooms
  • bathroom and kitchen design companies
  • furniture or homeware stores or manufacturers
  • companies that furnish homes for real estate sales
  • polytechnics or universities as tutors and lecturers.

Opportunities for self-employed designers are limited.


  • Hays, 'Jobs in Demand - Architecture July-December 2018', August 2018, (
  • Ministry of Business,Innovation and Employment, 'Jobs Online Quarterly Report - June 2018', 30 July 2018, (
  • Ministry of Business,Innovation and Employment, 'Occupation Outlook - Designers and Artists', accessed September 2018, (
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
  • Veninga, C, CEO, The Designers Institute of New Zealand, interview, 5 September 2018.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Interior designers may progress to set up their own interior design business, or move into management roles.

Interior designers may specialise in:

  • commercial or residential work
  • colour consulting
  • feng shui design
  • kitchens
  • lighting
  • room styling
  • home staging for real estate sales.
An interior designer checks fabrics in a curtain shop

Interior designers may visit shops to find furniture and accessories for a client

Last updated 23 June 2020