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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Gadsden AL

How to Select the Right Interior Designer School

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Gadsden AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you start? A number of prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.

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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 primary distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Gadsden AL can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create 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 ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new career in Gadsden AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives 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 degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

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

Why Study to Become an Interior Designer?

Gadsden 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.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Gadsden AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. 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 an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Gadsden Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become 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 some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Gadsden AL program you select should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a substantial network of Gadsden AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Gadsden AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Gadsden AL programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Gadsden home, go to the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Gadsden AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Designer College near Gadsden Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Gadsden AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior design college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Gadsden Alabama.