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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Decatur AL

How to Select the Best Interior Designer Program

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Decatur AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Many potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Decatur AL

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The main difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires 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 attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Decatur AL can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degrees

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new profession in Decatur AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many 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 furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business required 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 two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

Decatur Alabama interior designer bathroomAfter you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Decatur AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to make sure 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 industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial assistance 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 Program Prep 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 school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Decatur AL college you enroll in should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Decatur AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Decatur AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Decatur AL programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Decatur home, go to the campus and monitor a few classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Decatur AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Designer College near Decatur Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Decatur AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior designer college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several things to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still important 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 assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Decatur Alabama.