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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Madison AL

How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Madison AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you do the proper research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you start? A number of future students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, 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 vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Madison AL

Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The primary difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Madison AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently 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 can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

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

Interior Design Training Programs

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new career in Madison AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options 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 their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate 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 adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Designer Online Colleges

Madison AL student attending interior design school onlineFor students who wish to study in the convenience of their Madison AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Once you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Madison AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design program and college 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Madison Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require 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 college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Madison AL school you choose should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination 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 obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs 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 a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Madison AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Madison AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Madison AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Madison home, go to the campus and monitor 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer school you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Madison AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer College near Madison Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Madison AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior designer school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several factors to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. 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 right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Madison Alabama.