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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Birmingham AL

How to Find the Right Interior Designer Degree Program

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 talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? A number of future students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, 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 Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Birmingham AL

Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The main distinction between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Birmingham AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently 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 focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Birmingham Alabama interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Options

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to begin your new profession in Birmingham AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally 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 deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

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

Why Become 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.

What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

When you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Birmingham AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the cheapest 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 consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, 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 College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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 college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Birmingham AL school you select should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of Birmingham AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Birmingham AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Birmingham AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Birmingham home, visit the campus and attend a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening 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 option also. Finally, check what the process 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 AlabamaPicking the right interior designer school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many points to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Birmingham Alabama.