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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Hoover AL

How to Find the Right Interior Design School

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Hoover AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? Many prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Hoover AL

Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The key difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Hoover AL can specialize in:

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

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Hoover Alabama interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new profession in Hoover AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually 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 several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Why Become an Interior Designer?

Hoover AL student attending interior design school onlineThere are many options available to you once you graduate and enter the field of interior design.  If you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit you may become self-employed and open your own interior design shop. You might also work for a small or larger design firm. Designers have careers creating interiors for businesses, hospitals, government buildings, as well as private residences. Rarely is a design career a 9 to 5 job. You’ll need to be flexible, patient, and persistent to get your career off the ground. But you will have the opportunity to earn an attractive income as well as the personal satisfaction of creating beautiful living and working spaces.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Hoover AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

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

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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 school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Hoover AL college you select should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a sizable network of Hoover AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Hoover AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Hoover AL colleges you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Hoover home, visit the college and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Hoover AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design College near Hoover Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Hoover AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior designer college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school 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 balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Hoover Alabama.