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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Hoover AL

How to Find the Right Interior Designer Degree Program

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Hoover AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the proper 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 examination as well. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But just where do you begin? Some prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, 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 and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Hoover AL

Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The principal difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing 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 taught to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Hoover AL can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Designer Training Programs

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training required to begin your new profession in Hoover AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade 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 two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Designer Online Classes

Hoover AL student attending interior design school onlineFor those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Hoover AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school must be within driving distance from your Hoover AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer school and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Hoover Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Hoover AL college you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Hoover AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Hoover AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of aid they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Hoover AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Hoover home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

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

Choose the Right Interior Designer College near Hoover Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Hoover AlabamaChoosing the right interior design school is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Hoover Alabama.