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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Birmingham AL

How to Select the Right Interior Designer Course

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Birmingham AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Many prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Birmingham AL

Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The main distinction between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Birmingham AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas 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 must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Birmingham Alabama interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new career in Birmingham AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools

Birmingham Alabama interior designer bathroomOnce you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Birmingham AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Birmingham Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready 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) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Birmingham AL school you select should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Birmingham AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Birmingham AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining 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? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Birmingham AL programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Birmingham home, visit the campus and sit in on 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 styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Birmingham AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School near Birmingham Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Birmingham AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several things to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Birmingham Alabama.