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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Mobile AL

How to Pick the Right Interior Designer College

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Mobile 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 important that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will cover those issues and other important 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 choices are offered.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Mobile AL

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key difference between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general 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 Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Mobile AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main 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. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Mobile Alabama interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new profession in Mobile AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed 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 supply the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Why Do You Want to Be 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 Design Colleges

After you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Mobile AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Mobile Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become 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 program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Mobile AL school you enroll in should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a sizable network of Mobile AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Mobile AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of support they offer. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Mobile AL schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Mobile home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Mobile AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Best Interior Designer Program near Mobile Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Mobile AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior designer college is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program 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 important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Mobile Alabama.