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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Florence AL

How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Degree Program

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Florence AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final choice. But just where do you start? A number of future students will launch their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will address 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 alternatives are offered.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Florence AL

Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The main difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories 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 area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Florence Alabama interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Designer Training Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training required to start your new profession in Florence AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty 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 programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

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

What to Ask Interior Design Colleges

Florence Alabama interior designer bathroomWhen you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Florence AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Florence Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep 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) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Florence AL school you choose should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with 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 obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Florence AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Florence AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Florence AL programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Florence home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. 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 attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Designer College near Florence Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Florence AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior design college is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Florence Alabama.