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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Decatur AL

How to Choose the Right Interior Design School

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Decatur AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? Some potential students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Decatur AL

Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The principal difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Decatur AL can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degree Options

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new profession in Decatur AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Designer Online Colleges

Decatur AL student attending interior design school onlineFor students who wish to study in the comfort of their Decatur AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the only 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 study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Once you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Decatur AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design school and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through 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 organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Decatur Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate 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 mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Decatur AL college you select should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a significant network of Decatur AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Decatur AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller 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. Find out from the Decatur AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Decatur home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Decatur AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design College near Decatur Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Decatur AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior design program is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher 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 respected in the profession. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Decatur Alabama.