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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alabaster AL

How to Find the Best Interior Designer Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Alabaster AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? Some prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking 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 Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Alabaster AL

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The primary difference between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories 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 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 Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Alabaster Alabama interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new career in Alabaster AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Why Do You Want to Be 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.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Alabaster AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Alabaster Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get 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 several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Alabaster AL school you choose should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at 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 signify that the school has a significant network of Alabaster AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Alabaster AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Alabaster AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Alabaster home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Alabaster AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design Program near Alabaster Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Alabaster AlabamaSelecting the right interior designer school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of points to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alabaster Alabama.