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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Florence AL

How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Degree Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Florence AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are considering before you make your final decision. But where do you begin? Many future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask 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 class alternatives are available.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Florence AL

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The main difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can work 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 requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Florence AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

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

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training required to launch your new career in Florence AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs 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 components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Online Interior Designer Schools

Florence AL student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Florence AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

When you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Florence AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design school and program that you enroll in 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Florence Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require 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 college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Florence AL school you select should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Florence AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Florence AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Florence AL colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Florence home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Florence AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design College near Florence Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Florence AlabamaChoosing the right interior designer college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Florence Alabama.