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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Decatur AL

How to Select the Best Interior Designer School

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Decatur AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Many future students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching 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 and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Decatur AL

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work 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 many 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 some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Decatur AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently 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, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Decatur Alabama interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are four degree options available in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new profession in Decatur AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools

Decatur Alabama interior designer bathroomNow that you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Decatur AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few 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 assess and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to make sure 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 industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Decatur Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready 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 program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Decatur AL school you choose should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt 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 higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a large network of Decatur AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Decatur AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Decatur AL colleges you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Decatur home, go to the school and attend a few classes. While there talk with a few 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Decatur AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Best Interior Designer School near Decatur Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Decatur AlabamaPicking the ideal interior design program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several things to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Decatur Alabama.