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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Madison AL

How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design Course

Once you have made a decision 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 talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential 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 begin? A number of potential students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 available.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Madison AL

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The principal difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone 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 requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Madison AL can specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must 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 implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Training Programs

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to launch your new profession in Madison AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs 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 components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Online Interior Designer Degree Programs

Madison AL student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Madison AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Madison AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the least expensive 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 also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Madison Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some 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 program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Madison AL program you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with 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 designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent 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 significant network of Madison AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Madison AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate 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 programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Madison home, go to the school and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Madison AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Design Program near Madison Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Madison AlabamaSelecting the right interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several things to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But 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 properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Madison Alabama.