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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Huntsville AL

How to Pick the Best Interior Design School

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Huntsville AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Many future students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask 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 class alternatives are available.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Huntsville AL

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The primary distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general 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 essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, 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 looks as the main consideration.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Huntsville Alabama interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
 

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new career in Huntsville AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Why Study to Become an Interior Designer?

Huntsville AL student attending interior design school onlineThere are many options available to you once you graduate and enter the field of interior design.  If you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit you may become self-employed and open your own interior design shop. You might also work for a small or larger design firm. Designers have careers creating interiors for businesses, hospitals, government buildings, as well as private residences. Rarely is a design career a 9 to 5 job. You’ll need to be flexible, patient, and persistent to get your career off the ground. But you will have the opportunity to earn an attractive income as well as the personal satisfaction of creating beautiful living and working spaces.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

When you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Huntsville AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options as well. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design school and program that you choose 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college 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 excellent, it may also help when applying for financial aid 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 colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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 in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Huntsville AL school you select should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance 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 held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a significant network of Huntsville AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Huntsville AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Huntsville AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Huntsville home, visit the school and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design school you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant 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 offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design College near Huntsville Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Huntsville AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior designer college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many things to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Huntsville Alabama.