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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near East Florence AL

How to Select the Right Interior Design Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near East Florence AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

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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 key difference between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad 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 room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

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

Interior Design Degrees

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to begin your new profession in East Florence AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • 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 three to five years.

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

Why Train to Become an Interior Designer?

East Florence 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.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges

After you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your East Florence AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of East Florence Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several 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 calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the East Florence AL college you select should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a significant network of East Florence AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the East Florence AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the East Florence AL schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your East Florence home, visit the college and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design college you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near East Florence AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol 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 AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior design program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are many factors to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in East Florence Alabama.