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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Mobile AL

How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design School

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Mobile AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you start? A number of future students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those issues and other vital 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 training options are available.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Mobile AL

Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The principal difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Mobile AL can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Mobile Alabama interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new profession in Mobile AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Designer Online Classes

Mobile AL student attending interior design school onlineFor students who wish to study in the convenience of their Mobile AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools 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 structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

When you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Mobile AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in 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 receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Mobile Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready 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) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Mobile AL college you select should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates 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 jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Mobile AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Mobile AL programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Mobile home, visit the school and sit in on 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 credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your active 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, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Choose the Best Interior Designer College near Mobile Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Mobile AlabamaChoosing the right interior design school is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check 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 rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Mobile Alabama.