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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Mobile AL

How to Find the Right Interior Designer Course

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Mobile AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you get the appropriate 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 could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final choice. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will cover those issues and other crucial 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 class options are available.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Mobile AL

Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The primary difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Mobile AL can specialize in:

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

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. 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 incorporating Feng shui principles, Mobile Alabama interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new career in Mobile AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges

Mobile Alabama interior designer bathroomWhen you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Mobile AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just verify 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 college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Mobile Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Mobile AL school you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill 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 attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a significant network of Mobile AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Mobile AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Mobile AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Mobile home, visit 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 approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Mobile AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Right Interior Design College near Mobile Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Mobile AlabamaSelecting the right interior design program is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Mobile Alabama.