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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Madison AL

How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Course

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Madison AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? Many prospective 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 issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Madison AL

Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The primary difference between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working 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 work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Madison AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. 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 integrating Feng shui concepts, Madison Alabama interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new profession in Madison AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to 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 take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Why 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.

What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

After you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Madison AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design college and program that you select 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 receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Madison Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as 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 also. Therefore besides furnishing an excellent education, the Madison AL school you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Madison AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Madison AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction 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 college and attend a few classes. While there talk with some 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 design school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Madison AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design College near Madison Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Madison AlabamaSelecting the right interior designer school is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Madison Alabama.