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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near East Florence AL

How to Find the Right Interior Design Program

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near East Florence AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you start? Many potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in East Florence AL

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The primary difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in East Florence AL may specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new profession in East Florence AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose 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 a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

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

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

East Florence Alabama interior designer bathroomWhen you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your East Florence AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you choose 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). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of East Florence Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the East Florence AL college you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam 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 designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a sizable network of East Florence 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 offices for the East Florence AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the East Florence AL schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your East Florence home, visit the college and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near East Florence AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Interior Designer College near East Florence Alabama

interior designed kitchen in East Florence AlabamaPicking the right interior design school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many factors to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in East Florence Alabama.