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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Madison AL

How to Find the Right Interior Design Degree Program

Once 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 commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking 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 compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Madison AL

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have 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 many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Madison AL may specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degrees

There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new career in Madison AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be 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 several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate 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 achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 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 required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Degree Programs

Madison AL student attending interior design school onlineFor students who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Madison AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

After you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Madison AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Madison Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require 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 calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Madison AL program you select should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Madison AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Madison AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Madison AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Madison home, go to the college and attend a couple of 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Madison AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design Program near Madison Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Madison AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior design school is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Madison Alabama.