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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Florence AL

How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design School

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near 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 important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But where do you start? Many future students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Florence AL

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

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

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

Interior Design Degree Options

There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new profession in Florence AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver 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 college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Why Become an Interior Designer?

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.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Florence AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Florence Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of 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 college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an outstanding education, the Florence AL college you select should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. 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 school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a significant network of Florence AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Florence AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Florence AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Florence home, visit the school and attend a couple of 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? Last, make certain that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night 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 option also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer College near Florence Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Florence AlabamaSelecting the right interior design college is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Florence Alabama.