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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Florence AL

How to Select the Right Interior Designer College

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Florence AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some 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 crucial that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final choice. But where do you start? Some future students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Florence AL

Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The key distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous 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 some projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Florence AL can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Florence Alabama interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new career in Florence AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

Florence Alabama interior designer bathroomNow that you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Florence AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded 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 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial assistance 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 positions.

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) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Florence AL program you choose should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt 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 a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a large network of Florence AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Florence AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Florence AL programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Florence home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. While there talk with some 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 Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design college you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Florence AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Best Interior Designer School near Florence Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Florence AlabamaSelecting the right interior designer school is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Florence Alabama.