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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Gadsden AL

How to Select the Best Interior Designer Course

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Gadsden AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Gadsden AL

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Gadsden AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to 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 looks as the main concern.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Gadsden Alabama interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new career in Gadsden AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Interior Designer Online Degree Programs

Gadsden AL student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing to attend classes in the comfort of their Gadsden AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges

After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, 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 move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design college 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 verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. 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 assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Gadsden Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require 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 mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an excellent education, the Gadsden AL college you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet 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 obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first job. 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 higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Gadsden AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Gadsden AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Gadsden AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Gadsden home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with some 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Gadsden AL, make certain 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 protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Right Interior Designer School near Gadsden Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Gadsden AlabamaSelecting the right interior design college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of things to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate 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.