Home >> Alabama >> Madison >> Interior Design Degrees


Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Madison AL

How to Choose the Right Interior Designer School

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 spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Many future students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.

Start Your Interior Design Career By Requesting Free Info on Local Schools Below

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Madison AL

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

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

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Madison Alabama interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new profession in Madison AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

Madison Alabama interior designer bathroomAfter you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Madison AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Madison Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate 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 requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Madison AL school you choose should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with 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 obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a significant network of Madison AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Madison AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college 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 intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Madison AL programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Madison home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. 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 attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Right Interior Designer School near Madison Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Madison AlabamaPicking the right interior designer college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several things to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Madison Alabama.