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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near East Florence AL

How to Select the Right Interior Designer Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near East Florence AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But where do you begin? A number of potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools 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 only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 and Interior Design

interior designed living room in East Florence AL

Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The main difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in East Florence AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently 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 particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to 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 several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, East Florence Alabama interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
 

Interior Design Degree Options

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new profession in East Florence AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs 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 creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

East Florence Alabama interior designer bathroomAfter you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your East Florence AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national 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 gone through an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of East Florence Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the East Florence AL program you choose should also furnish the appropriate instruction 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 School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask 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 profession and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of East Florence AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the East Florence AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of support they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the East Florence AL programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your East Florence home, visit the school and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near East Florence AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Designer Program near East Florence Alabama

interior designed kitchen in East Florence AlabamaSelecting the right interior designer college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in East Florence Alabama.