Home >> Alabama >> Decatur >> Interior Design Schools


Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Decatur AL

How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Degree Program

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Decatur AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the proper 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 could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final selection. But exactly where do you start? Many potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered also. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.

Start Your Interior Design Career By Requesting Free Info on Local Schools Below

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Decatur AL

Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The key difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates 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 educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Decatur AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically 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 can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must 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 principles, Decatur Alabama interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new profession in Decatur AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment 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 aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate 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 acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use 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 professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Designer Online Classes

Decatur AL student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Decatur AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Decatur AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. 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 issues that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional 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 an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 outstanding, it might also help when obtaining 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 jobs.

Does the School Prep 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 college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Decatur AL college you choose should also provide the suitable education 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 College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate 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 Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Decatur AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Decatur AL schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Decatur home, visit the college and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer program you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will 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 working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Interior Design Program near Decatur Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Decatur AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior designer program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many things to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Decatur Alabama.