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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Huntsville AL

How to Select the Right Interior Design Program

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 talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But where do you start? A number of potential students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Huntsville AL

Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The main distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Huntsville AL can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new career in Huntsville AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs 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 creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Designer Online Degree Programs

Huntsville AL student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Huntsville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Huntsville AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on 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 options as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Huntsville Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Huntsville AL college you select should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. 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 high rate is an excellent indication 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 school has a large network of Huntsville AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Huntsville AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Huntsville AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student 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 philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design college you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially 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, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design College near Huntsville Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Huntsville AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior design program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Huntsville Alabama.