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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Huntsville AL

How to Select the Best Interior Design College

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Huntsville AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you begin? Some prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Huntsville AL

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The principal difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up 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 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 particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Huntsville Alabama interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new career in Huntsville AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Why Do You Want to Be 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.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

After you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Huntsville AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Huntsville Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

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

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a large network of Huntsville AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Huntsville AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of support they provide. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate 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 programs you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Huntsville home, visit the college and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Huntsville AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Best Interior Design Program near Huntsville Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Huntsville AlabamaPicking the ideal interior designer program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many points to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Huntsville Alabama.