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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Florence AL

How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Course

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near 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 spaces, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But exactly where do you start? A number of prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking 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 options are available.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Florence AL

Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business 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 a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Florence AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Florence Alabama interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Options

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new career in Florence AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt 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) examination mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Florence Alabama interior designer bathroomAfter you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Florence AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many 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, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Florence AL school you enroll in should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a sizable network of Florence AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Florence AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Florence AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Florence home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer program you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Florence AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design College near Florence Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Florence AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior designer school is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many things to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Florence Alabama.