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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alabaster AL

How to Find the Best Interior Designer Degree Program

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Alabaster AL, it's time to start 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 obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you start? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 options are offered.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Alabaster AL

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The principal distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work 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 a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Alabaster AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate 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 banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They 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 incorporating Feng shui concepts, Alabaster Alabama interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
 

Interior Design Training Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new profession in Alabaster AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring a 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 advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Why Study to Become an Interior Designer?

Alabaster 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.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Alabaster AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Alabaster Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College 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) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Alabaster AL college you select should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a sizable network of Alabaster AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Alabaster AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Alabaster AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Alabaster home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Alabaster AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Design Program near Alabaster Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Alabaster AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many points to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alabaster Alabama.