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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Madison AL

How to Find the Right Interior Design College

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Madison AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you perform the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 choices are offered.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Madison AL

Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The main difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Madison AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Madison Alabama interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new profession in Madison AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money 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 mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

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

Why Train to Become an Interior Designer?

Madison AL student attending interior design school onlineThere are many options available to you once you graduate and enter the field of interior design.  If you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit you may become self-employed and open your own interior design shop. You might also work for a small or larger design firm. Designers have careers creating interiors for businesses, hospitals, government buildings, as well as private residences. Rarely is a design career a 9 to 5 job. You’ll need to be flexible, patient, and persistent to get your career off the ground. But you will have the opportunity to earn an attractive income as well as the personal satisfaction of creating beautiful living and working spaces.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Madison AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal 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 few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their instructors 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 training are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Madison Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate 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 requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So besides providing an excellent education, the Madison AL program you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a significant network of Madison AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Madison AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Madison AL schools you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Madison home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and ask 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Madison AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer School near Madison Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Madison AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior designer school is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Madison Alabama.