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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Huntsville AL

How to Pick the Right Interior Designer School

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 residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But just where do you begin? Many future students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Huntsville AL

Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The key distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Huntsville AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

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

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to start your new career in Huntsville AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter 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) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining 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 advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

Huntsville Alabama interior designer bathroomAfter you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Huntsville AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential 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 highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Huntsville Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an excellent education, the Huntsville AL school you select should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements 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 undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools 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 a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a substantial network of Huntsville AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Huntsville AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Huntsville AL colleges you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Huntsville home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. While there speak with some students and ask 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer school you choose provides 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 at night or on weekends near Huntsville AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Right Interior Designer College near Huntsville Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Huntsville AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior design college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Huntsville Alabama.