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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Huntsville AL

How to Pick the Best Interior Design School

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design 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 residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training 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 looking at prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? Many future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking 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 training alternatives are available.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Huntsville AL

Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Huntsville AL can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Training Programs

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new career in Huntsville AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted 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 required in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

Huntsville Alabama interior designer bathroomAfter you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Huntsville AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options also. But selecting 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 factors that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Huntsville Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some 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 school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides providing an excellent education, the Huntsville AL program you enroll in should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam 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 no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Huntsville AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Huntsville AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Huntsville AL schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Huntsville home, visit the school and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Huntsville AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design School near Huntsville Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Huntsville AlabamaChoosing the right interior designer college is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many points to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Huntsville Alabama.