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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Huntsville AL

How to Choose the Right Interior Design Course

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Huntsville AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are considering before you make your final decision. But exactly where do you start? A number of future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant factors 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 issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Huntsville AL

Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The principal distinction between the two is the level 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, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Huntsville AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. 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 particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Huntsville Alabama interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new profession in Huntsville AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate 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 normally completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Schools

Huntsville AL student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing to study in the convenience of their Huntsville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you select is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college must be within commuting distance from your Huntsville AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. 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 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 school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Huntsville AL college you select should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could 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 graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Huntsville AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of support they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Huntsville AL colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Huntsville home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. While there talk 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Huntsville AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Choose the Best Interior Design Program near Huntsville Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Huntsville AlabamaPicking the ideal interior designer school is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many points to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges 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.