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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alabaster AL

How to Select the Right Interior Design Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Alabaster AL, it's time to start 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 receive the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become 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 do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But where do you begin? A number of future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 available.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Alabaster AL

Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The main distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, 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 educated to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Alabaster AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

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

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new career in Alabaster 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 regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Online Interior Designer Classes

Alabaster AL student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Alabaster AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, 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 confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Alabaster AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm 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 applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Alabaster Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Alabaster AL college you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a significant network of Alabaster AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

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

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Alabaster AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Alabaster home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design college you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Alabaster AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design Program near Alabaster Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Alabaster AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior designer college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many points to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining 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 quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alabaster Alabama.