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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alabaster AL

How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design Degree Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Alabaster AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But where do you begin? A number of future students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, 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 Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Alabaster AL

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

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Alabaster Alabama interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new profession in Alabaster AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Why Train 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.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

When you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Alabaster AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Alabaster Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get 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 school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Alabaster AL school you choose should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out 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 trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Alabaster AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Alabaster AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Alabaster AL schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Alabaster home, go to the college and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Alabaster AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design Program near Alabaster Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Alabaster AlabamaChoosing the right interior design program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many things to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alabaster Alabama.