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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alabaster AL

How to Select the Right Interior Design College

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Alabaster AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But where do you begin? A number of future students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will address those issues 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Alabaster AL

Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The key distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Alabaster AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces 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 several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Alabaster Alabama interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new career in Alabaster AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business required 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 furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Alabaster Alabama interior designer bathroomNow that you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Alabaster AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Alabaster Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Alabaster AL program you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate 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 School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at 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 held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a sizable network of Alabaster AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Alabaster AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of support they provide. A number of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large 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 programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Alabaster home, visit the campus and monitor a few 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Alabaster AL, make certain 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 procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Design College near Alabaster Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Alabaster AlabamaChoosing the right interior designer program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several things to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alabaster Alabama.