Home >> Alabama >> Mobile >> Interior Design Degrees


Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Mobile AL

How to Choose the Best Interior Design School

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Mobile AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you start? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

Start Your Interior Design Career By Requesting Free Info on Local Schools Below

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Mobile AL

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The main distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates 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 educated to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Mobile AL may 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, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

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

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training required to launch your new profession in Mobile AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance 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 typically completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Mobile Alabama interior designer bathroomOnce you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Mobile AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design school and program that you select has earned accreditation from 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Mobile Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become 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 school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Mobile AL program you choose should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high 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 could also indicate that the college has a large network of Mobile AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Mobile AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Mobile AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Mobile home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design college you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Mobile AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Best Interior Designer Program near Mobile Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Mobile AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Mobile Alabama.