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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alabaster AL

How to Pick the Best Interior Design School

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Alabaster AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? A number of prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in 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 offered.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Alabaster AL

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The key difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Alabaster AL can 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, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

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

Interior Design Degrees

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new profession in Alabaster AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Interior Design Online Degree Programs

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 classes. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you choose is accredited by a respected 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 college may be the ideal option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Alabaster AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. 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 previously mentioned, 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 mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Alabaster AL school you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill 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 designer certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of Alabaster AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Alabaster AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. A number of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Alabaster AL programs you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Alabaster home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with a few 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Alabaster AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Right Interior Design College near Alabaster Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Alabaster AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are many points to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alabaster Alabama.