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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Huntsville AL

How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design Course

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Huntsville AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But just where do you start? Some future students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration also. We will cover 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 class alternatives are available.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Huntsville AL

Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The primary distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Huntsville AL may specialize in:

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

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as 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 selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Huntsville Alabama interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new career in Huntsville AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous 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 deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

Huntsville Alabama interior designer bathroomWhen 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 school needs to be within commuting distance from your Huntsville AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just make sure 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Huntsville Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Huntsville AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing 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 profession and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Huntsville AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Huntsville AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of support they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Huntsville AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Huntsville home, visit the college and sit in on 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 backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Huntsville AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design School near Huntsville Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Huntsville AlabamaPicking the right interior design program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Huntsville Alabama.