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Salary Range for Model Home Designers

by Rick Suttle

Architects, design firms and real estate companies depend on model home designers to decorate and improve the interior aesthetics of model homes. A well-decorated model home enhances the experience for potential buyers, as they can better visualize themselves living in a comparable model. Model home designers select furniture, place settings, color schemes and lighting designs for all rooms in the homes. If you want to work in this field, you'll need a bachelor's degree. You can expect to earn an annual salary that's above-average compared to most occupations.

Salary and Qualifications

The average annual salary for model home designers was $60,000 as of 2013, according to the job site Simply Hired. To become a model home designer, a bachelor's degree in any field is acceptable. It also behooves you to take courses in interior design, drawing and computer-aided design. You can also become certified as an interior designer by taking the three-part National Council for Interior Design Qualifications exam. To qualify, you need a bachelor's degree and two years of experience in the interior design industry. The exam tests your competency in design application, construction standards, space planning, life safety and lighting design. (See references 1 and 4 and resource 1)

Salary by Region

In 2013, average salaries for model home designers varied significantly in all U.S. regions. In the West region, they earned the highest salaries of $68,000 in Alaska and California and the lowest of $48,000 in Montana, according to Simply Hired. Those in the South made between $47,000 and $95,000 per year, respectively, in Mississippi and Washington, DC. If you worked in the Northeast, you'd make $54,000 or $73,000, respectively, in Maine or Massachusetts, the lowest and highest salaries in that region. In the Midwest, your salary would be the highest in Minnesota and the lowest in South Dakota -- $64,000 or $42,000, respectively. (See references 6 to 9)

Contributing Factors

Your salary as a model home designer may be higher in certain industries. In 2012, interior designers, including those who decorate model homes, earned the highest salaries of $64,250 working for real estate brokers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those who worked for architectural or engineering firms made $58,230 annually -- versus an industry average of $52,970. Your salary would be highest in Washington, D.C., because of higher living costs in that district. For example, if you earned $60,000 as a model home designer in Des Moines, Iowa, you'd need to make $94,276 in Washington, D.C., to enjoy the same living standard, according to CNN Money's "Cost of Living" calculator. (See references 2 and 5)

Job Outlook

The BLS projects a 19 percent increase in jobs for interior designers, including model home specialists, which is statistically about average. Specialized designers, such as those who focus on high-end homes, will enjoy a 27 percent increase in employment opportunities -- largely driven by an increased demand for custom and environmentally-friendly homes. The real estate market largely dictates the number of available jobs for model home designers. Real Trends forecasts a 6 to 8 percent increase in new home sales in 2013. (See references 1 and 10)

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