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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Mobile AL

How to Pick the Right Interior Design Program

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Mobile 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 important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But just where do you start? Some prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered also. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching 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 vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Mobile AL

Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The principal difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Mobile AL can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Mobile Alabama interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new profession in Mobile AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Why Train to Become an Interior Designer?

Mobile 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.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Mobile AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. 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 undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Mobile Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Mobile AL college you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance 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 high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a large network of Mobile AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Mobile AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of aid they offer. Many of interior design programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Mobile AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Mobile home, go to the school 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 credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Mobile AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Designer College near Mobile Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Mobile AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior design school is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Mobile Alabama.