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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Birmingham AL

How to Pick the Best Interior Designer School

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Birmingham AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Some future students will launch their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Birmingham AL

Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The primary difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing 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 trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Birmingham AL may specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Birmingham Alabama interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training required to launch your new profession in Birmingham AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt 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 examination.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Birmingham Alabama interior designer bathroomAfter you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Birmingham AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative 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 highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Birmingham Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Birmingham AL college you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Birmingham AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Birmingham AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of aid they offer. Many of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Birmingham AL colleges you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Birmingham home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Birmingham AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer College near Birmingham Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Birmingham AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior designer college is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Birmingham Alabama.