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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Gadsden AL

How to Choose the Best Interior Design Degree Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Gadsden AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you obtain the proper 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 could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? A number of future students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Gadsden AL

Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The primary distinction between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training 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 work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Gadsden AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

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

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new profession in Gadsden AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth 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 graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Why Train 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.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Gadsden AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you choose 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program 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 securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Gadsden Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require 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 requiring licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Gadsden AL program you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Gadsden AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Gadsden AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Gadsden AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Gadsden home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer college you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Gadsden AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design Program near Gadsden Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Gadsden AlabamaPicking the right interior design program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several points to consider before enrolling in 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 conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Gadsden Alabama.