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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Decatur AL

How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Decatur 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 interiors, it's important that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? Many prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Decatur AL

Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Decatur AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks 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 must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Decatur Alabama interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Training Programs

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new career in Decatur AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination 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 available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover 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 secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

Decatur Alabama interior designer bathroomWhen you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Decatur AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, 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 colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers become 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, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Decatur AL program you select should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools 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 an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a sizable network of Decatur AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Decatur AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Decatur AL colleges you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Decatur home, go to the campus and monitor a few classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Decatur AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Right Interior Designer Program near Decatur Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Decatur AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior designer school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Decatur Alabama.