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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Hoover AL

How to Find the Right Interior Designer School

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Hoover AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final choice. But just where do you begin? A number of future students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Hoover AL

Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The key distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Hoover AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. 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 kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Hoover Alabama interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new career in Hoover AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Online Interior Designer Schools

Hoover AL student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Hoover AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy 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 colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

When you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Hoover AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Hoover Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become 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 some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an excellent education, the Hoover AL college you enroll in should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy 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 obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement 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 regard within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Hoover AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Hoover AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Hoover AL schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Hoover home, go to the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with some 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active 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, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer School near Hoover Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Hoover AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior designer college is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Hoover Alabama.