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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Madison AL

How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer Program

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school 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 interiors, it's imperative that you get the proper 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 training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But where do you start? Many potential students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Madison AL

Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The primary distinction between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas 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 basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

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

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training required to start your new career in Madison AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed 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 a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives 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 largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed 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.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Madison AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you choose 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program 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 training are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Madison Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College 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) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Madison AL school you enroll in should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. 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 college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Madison AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Madison AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support 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 assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Madison AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Madison home, go to the school 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 credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Madison AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Interior Designer Program near Madison Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Madison AlabamaChoosing the right interior designer program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many things to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Madison Alabama.