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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Huntsville AL

How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Course

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Huntsville 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 important that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Huntsville AL

Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The principal difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work 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 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 functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Huntsville AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily 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 focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Huntsville Alabama interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to begin your new profession in Huntsville AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have 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 qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 supply advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide 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. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ 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", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Online Interior Designer Colleges

Huntsville AL student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing to study in the convenience of their Huntsville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be 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 colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Huntsville AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. 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 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 recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Huntsville Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Huntsville AL college you choose should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a large network of Huntsville AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Huntsville AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Huntsville AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Huntsville home, go to the college and attend a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Huntsville AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Right Interior Design College near Huntsville Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Huntsville AlabamaChoosing the right interior designer program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance 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 final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Huntsville Alabama.