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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Gadsden AL

How to Pick the Best Interior Designer Program

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Gadsden AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate 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 preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? Some potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Gadsden AL

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The principal distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Gadsden AL can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Gadsden Alabama interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
 

Interior Design Degree Options

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new career in Gadsden AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily 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.

To work professionally and adopt 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 needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

Gadsden Alabama interior designer bathroomNow that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Gadsden AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to 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 schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in 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 demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Gadsden Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges 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 necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Gadsden AL program you select should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement 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 highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Gadsden AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Gadsden AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of support they offer. Many of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Gadsden AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Gadsden home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. While there 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer school you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Gadsden AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Designer College near Gadsden Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Gadsden AlabamaChoosing the right interior designer school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several points to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Gadsden Alabama.