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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Decatur AL

How to Find the Right Interior Design School

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Decatur AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But just where do you begin? Many prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, 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 Decatur AL

Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The key difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Decatur AL may specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Decatur Alabama interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
 

Interior Designer Training Programs

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training required to start your new career in Decatur AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide 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) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Why Train to Become an Interior Designer?

Decatur 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.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Decatur AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design college and program that you select has earned accreditation from 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 undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. 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 school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Decatur Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require 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 calling for licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Decatur AL program you enroll in should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement 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 regard within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a large network of Decatur AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Decatur AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of support they provide. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Decatur AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Decatur home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend 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 attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol 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 design school is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many points to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Decatur Alabama.