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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Hoover AL

How to Find the Right Interior Design Course

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Hoover AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are considering before you make your final selection. But just where do you start? A number of potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Hoover AL

Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The main difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Hoover AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Hoover Alabama interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new career in Hoover AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Degree Programs

Hoover AL student attending interior design school onlineFor students who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Hoover AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

When you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Hoover AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Hoover Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Hoover AL school you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Hoover AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Hoover AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior design schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Hoover AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Hoover home, go to the college and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design program you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Hoover AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Design College near Hoover Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Hoover AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior design program is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many things to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Hoover Alabama.