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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Decatur AL

How to Pick the Best Interior Design Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Decatur AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But exactly where do you start? Many prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Decatur AL

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The primary distinction 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 talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Decatur AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal 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 banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

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

Interior Designer Training Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new profession in Decatur AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced 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 opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Why Do You Want to Be 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.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Decatur AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through 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 agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Decatur Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get 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 program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Decatur AL school you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction 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 received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a sizable network of Decatur AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Decatur AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of support they offer. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Decatur AL schools you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Decatur home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly 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 certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Best Interior Design Program near Decatur Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Decatur AlabamaSelecting the right interior design program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several points to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Decatur Alabama.