How to Become an Interior Designer in Alabama
Interior designers are professionals who create and design personal and business spaces for their clients. They may work alone as a freelancer or as part of a team of designers. They may design interiors for homes that are being renovated or for new homes that have just been built, or they might be tasked with designing for an office building. Interior designers consider things such as space requirements, color schemes and lighting when they are decorating spaces. They also need to be able to read blueprints, so some formal education is needed to work in interior design. Most interior designers have at least a bachelor’s degree in interior design.
Requirements for Becoming an Interior Designer in Alabama
Educational and licensure requirements will vary by state. There aren’t any specific requirements to practice interior design in Alabama; however, most employers will require a degree in interior design or a similar field, work experience or both.
Alabama does not offer a statewide license to work as an interior designer, but you may choose to register as an interior designer with the Alabama Board of Registered Interior Designers (ABRID). Registering as an interior designer involves completing an educational program at an accredited college, working as an apprentice, taking a certification exam and then registering through the ABRID. All of this is voluntary, but education, certification and registration will show that you are dedicated to your career and are highly qualified.
Interior Design Schools in Alabama
There is no law that requires you to have a degree in interior design to work as an interior designer in Alabama. However, to receive certification and register in the state, you do have to complete an interior design program at an accredited school. The following Alabama schools offer accredited interior design programs:
- Auburn University. The Department of Consumer and Design Sciences (CADS) in the college of Human Sciences at Auburn University offers a Bachelor of Science degree program in interior design. This program is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). Auburn’s interior design program can be completed in nine semesters (four years). The classes are only taught once per year and must be taken in order. In addition to class instruction, students will spend time in a design studio as well. During the first three years, students can try an internship if they wish but are required to do a professional internship in their fourth year. As of 2015, this program had a 100 percent job placement rate for students within a year of graduation.
- Samford University School of the Arts. At Samford’s Department of Interior Architecture, you can get a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a major in Interior Design. This program is CIDA accredited. The program consists of 28 credit hours taken over three years, but 84 percent of students enrolled in the program complete it within four years. From 2015-2017, 92 percent of program graduates have gotten an interior design job after graduation.
- University of Alabama. The Bachelor of Science in Interior Design degree program at the University of Alabama is CIDA accredited. This program prepares students for entry-level work as an interior designer and to sit for the national certification exam if they are interested. The program consists of 120 credit hours including prerequisites and is designed to be completed in four years. A combination of classroom instruction and design studio lab work are taken during this time.
- University of North Alabama. The College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of North Alabama offers a CIDA-accredited Bachelor of Science degree program in Human Environment Science with an emphasis on Interior Design. This program consists of 128 credit hours that can be taken in four years. A 350-hour (6 credit hour) internship is required and should be taken in the summer between the student’s third and fourth years.
Certification and Registration for Interior Designers in Alabama
Alabama does not offer licensure in interior design, but the equivalent of doing so in the state is to become a registered interior designer (RID) through the ABRID. The first step to becoming registered is to complete a CIDA-accredited interior design educational program. The second step is to work under the supervision of a certified or registered interior designer. Both steps must be completed before going on to the next step, which is taking the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) certification exam. This exam is regulated by the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ). You may complete any one of the follow education and work combinations to take the NCIDQ exam:
- An interior design degree from a CIDA-accredited program and two years full-time work experience
- An interior design degree that is not accredited plus two years full-time work experience
- Any other degree plus an interior design degree and two years of full-time work experience
- An interior design associate degree (60 semester hours) and three years full-time work experience
- An interior design associate degree (40 semester hours) and four years full-time work experience
- An accredited architecture degree with three years of full-time work experience
The NCIDQ exam consists of three sections: the Interior Design Fundamentals Exam (IDFX), the Interior Design Professional Exam (IDPX) and the Practicum (PRAC) exam. A fee of $225 is required to apply for all three sections
Once you are deemed eligible to take the exam, you will activate a timeframe in which you must register for and take all three sections of the exam. You will have 10 exam windows to take the three sections, starting with the first exam window after you register. The registration fees are $295 for the IDFX exam, $350 for the IDPX exam and $455 for the PRAC exam. If you cancel an exam you are registered for, there will be a $150 cancellation fee.
Once you have passed all three sections of the exam within the allotted timeframe, you will receive certification. An annual renewal fee of $75 will apply. Once you are certified, you may register through the ABRID. To remain registered, you will need to complete 10 continued education credit hours annually.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
According to data provided by the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP), there were 590 interior designers employed in the state of Alabama in 2016. In the 10-year period between 2016 and 2026 it is predicted that there will be 610 interior designers working in the state, which would be a four percent increase.
In 2017, the average hourly wage for interior designers in the state was $24.50, and the average annual salary was $63,330. Salary will vary based on how much education and experience you have. Location is also a factor, as designers in some cities may earn a higher salary there than they would in other areas.
Working as an Interior Designer in Alabama
Interior designers may work for design studios, the design department of an architectural firm or corporate design departments. They may also work independently as freelancers.
In Alabama, the cities of Birmingham, Mobile and Huntsville employ the most interior designers. Montgomery and Tuscaloosa are also great places to consider working as an interior designer. If you are creative and enjoy designing spaces, consider becoming an interior designer in Alabama. In four to five years, you can earn a degree in interior design and become certified and ready to put your skills to work anywhere in the state.