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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Huntsville AL

How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer Course

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Huntsville AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you receive the proper training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account 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 training alternatives are offered.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Huntsville AL

Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The key difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's 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 2 general categories that an interior designer in Huntsville AL can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degrees

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training needed to start your new profession in Huntsville AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed 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. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available 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 in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty 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 the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually 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 several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Online Interior Design Classes

Huntsville AL student attending interior design school onlineFor students who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Huntsville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Huntsville AL home. Obviously 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 fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when applying for 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 colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get 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 school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Huntsville AL school you select should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam 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 obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a large network of Huntsville AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Huntsville AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big 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 attention from the teachers. Find out from the Huntsville AL programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Huntsville home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Huntsville AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design Program near Huntsville Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Huntsville AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior design college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are many points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Huntsville Alabama.