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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Auburn AL

How to Choose the Right Interior Design Program

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Auburn AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final selection. But just where do you start? Many potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered as well. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Auburn AL

Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The key difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Auburn AL can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new profession in Auburn AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Online Interior Designer Classes

Auburn AL student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Auburn AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you select is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

When you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Auburn AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Auburn Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Auburn AL school you choose should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support 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 higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a substantial network of Auburn AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Auburn AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is important 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 offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Auburn AL programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Auburn home, go to the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Auburn AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School near Auburn Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Auburn AlabamaSelecting the right interior design college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several things to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Auburn Alabama.