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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Decatur AL

How to Choose the Right Interior Design College

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Decatur AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you begin? Some future students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking 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 options are offered.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Decatur AL

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

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

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

Interior Designer Degree Options

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 undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade required 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 supply advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

Decatur Alabama interior designer bathroomOnce you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college has to be within driving distance from your Decatur AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools 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 recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Decatur Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School 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) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Decatur AL college you select should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with 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 designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask 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 students are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Decatur AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with 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 aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Decatur AL schools you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Decatur home, go to the school and attend a few classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer college you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Decatur AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design Program near Decatur Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Decatur AlabamaPicking the ideal interior design college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many factors to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still imperative that you conduct 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 appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Decatur Alabama.