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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near East Florence AL

How to Choose the Best Interior Designer Program

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near East Florence 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 spaces, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you start? A number of potential students will kick off 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 decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration 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 choices are available.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in East Florence AL

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The main 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 spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in East Florence AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, East Florence Alabama interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Options

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training required to launch your new career in East Florence AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven 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, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions 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 profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business 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 two year programs furnish advanced design training 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 the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Online Interior Designer Colleges

East Florence AL student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their East Florence AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools

When you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your East Florence AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. 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 exceptional, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many East Florence Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the East Florence AL program you choose should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a large network of East Florence AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the East Florence AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? 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 East Florence AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your East Florence home, visit the campus 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 styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near East Florence AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design School near East Florence Alabama

interior designed kitchen in East Florence AlabamaPicking the ideal interior design program is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many points to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in East Florence Alabama.