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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Madison AL

How to Find the Right Interior Designer School

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Madison 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 spaces, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you start? Some future students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Madison AL

Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The main difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Madison AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area 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 areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

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

Interior Design Degree Options

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to start your new career in Madison AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select 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. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

Madison Alabama interior designer bathroomNow that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Madison AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Madison Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become 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 program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an excellent education, the Madison AL college you choose should also furnish the proper training 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 received your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a sizable network of Madison AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Madison AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Madison AL schools you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Madison home, go to the college and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Madison AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design Program near Madison Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Madison AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior design college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Madison Alabama.