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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near East Florence AL

How to Choose the Right Interior Design Course

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near East Florence 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 interiors, it's important that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk 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

Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The primary difference between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in East Florence AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently 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 specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, East Florence Alabama interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new career in East Florence AL. Your selection 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 decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Schools

East Florence AL student attending interior design school onlineFor those who wish to study in the convenience of their East Florence AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain 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 structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

When you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your East Florence AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately choose 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 been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of East Florence Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate 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 mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the East Florence AL school you select should also furnish the appropriate training 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a sizable network of East Florence AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the East Florence AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the East Florence AL schools you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your East Florence home, visit the school and attend a few classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

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

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer College near East Florence Alabama

interior designed kitchen in East Florence AlabamaChoosing the right interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many things to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in East Florence Alabama.