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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Decatur AL

How to Select the Best Interior Designer College

Now that you have decided 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 commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? Many potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will cover those topics 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 training choices are available.

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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 principal distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training 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 spaces attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general 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 basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including 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 integrating Feng shui concepts, Decatur Alabama interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to start your new career in Decatur AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain 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 alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs 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 typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Why 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.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools

After you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Decatur AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify 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 college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Decatur Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Decatur AL college you enroll in should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Decatur AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Decatur AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Decatur AL schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Decatur home, go to the school and attend a couple of classes. While there speak 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important 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, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design School near Decatur Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Decatur AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several factors to think about 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. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Decatur Alabama.