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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Madison AL

How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Program

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program 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 essential that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you carry out the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? Many future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will cover 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 training 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 principal distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Madison AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often 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, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

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

Interior Designer Training Programs

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new profession in Madison AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally 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 trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate 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 examination.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Madison Alabama interior designer bathroomNow that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Madison AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Madison Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Madison AL program you choose should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with 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 earned your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Madison AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Madison AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior design schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Madison AL programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Madison home, go to the campus and sit in on 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 approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Madison AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Design School near Madison Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Madison AlabamaSelecting the right interior designer program is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many things to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. 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 appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Madison Alabama.