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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 design degree program near Mobile AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? A number of future students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Mobile AL

Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Mobile AL can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Designer Degrees

There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new career 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 commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions 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 credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain 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 provide alternatives in specialized 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 wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

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

Online Interior Design Degree Programs

Mobile AL student attending interior design school onlineFor those who wish to study in the convenience of their Mobile AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Mobile AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and school that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Mobile Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep 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 as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Mobile AL college you enroll in should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a large network of Mobile AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Mobile AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Mobile AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Mobile home, visit the campus and monitor a few classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Mobile AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option 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 School near Mobile Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Mobile AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior design school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Mobile Alabama.