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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Gadsden AL

How to Find the Best Interior Design Degree Program

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Gadsden AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are considering before you make your final decision. But exactly where do you start? Some potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Gadsden AL

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The main distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Gadsden AL can 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, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

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

Interior Design Training Programs

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new career in Gadsden AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for 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 deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student 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 attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Online Interior Designer Schools

Gadsden AL student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Gadsden AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs

Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Gadsden AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Gadsden Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require 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 program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Gadsden AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with 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 earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Gadsden AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Gadsden AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Gadsden AL colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Gadsden home, go to the campus and monitor a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Gadsden AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Interior Designer Program near Gadsden Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Gadsden AlabamaSelecting the right interior design college is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major 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 program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Gadsden Alabama.