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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 degree program near Florence AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? Some potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues and other important 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 training options are available.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Florence AL

Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key difference between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Florence AL may specialize in:

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

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

Interior Designer Training Programs

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new career in Florence AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Online Interior Designer Schools

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

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Florence AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized 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 requesting 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 College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Florence AL program you choose should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Florence AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Florence AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of support they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Small 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 colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Florence home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design school you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to 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 enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design College near Florence Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Florence AlabamaPicking the right interior designer program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many points to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Florence Alabama.