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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Gadsden AL

How to Pick the Best Interior Designer School

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Gadsden 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 spaces, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your skills 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 examination as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are considering before you make your final selection. But just where do you start? Some future students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Gadsden AL

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The main difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Gadsden AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal 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 hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Gadsden Alabama interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are four degree options available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new career in Gadsden AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs 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 aspects of the business needed 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 the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

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

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Gadsden Alabama interior designer bathroomWhen you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Gadsden AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, 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 cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, 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 colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become 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 school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Gadsden AL college you choose should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a substantial network of Gadsden AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Gadsden AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of aid they provide. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Gadsden AL colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Gadsden home, go to the school and sit in on 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 Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant 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 offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Design Program near Gadsden Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Gadsden AlabamaPicking the ideal interior designer college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of points to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Gadsden Alabama.