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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Birmingham AL

How to Find the Right Interior Designer Degree Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Birmingham AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be 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 proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? Many future students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will cover those issues 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 class choices are available.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Birmingham AL

Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The primary distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Birmingham AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

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

Interior Design Degrees

There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new profession in Birmingham AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Why Do You Want to Be an Interior Designer?

Birmingham 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.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges

When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Birmingham AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program 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 training are excellent, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Birmingham Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Birmingham AL college you select should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Birmingham AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Birmingham AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Birmingham AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Birmingham home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Birmingham AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School near Birmingham Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Birmingham AlabamaChoosing the right interior design college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Birmingham Alabama.