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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Montgomery AL

How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer School

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Montgomery AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you do the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 choices are available.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Montgomery AL

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The key distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Montgomery AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

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

Interior Design Degrees

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new profession in Montgomery AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain 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 addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for 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 cover the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving 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 advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

Montgomery Alabama interior designer bathroomNow that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Montgomery AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. 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 instructors. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Montgomery Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers get 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 college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Montgomery AL college you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with 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 obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Montgomery AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Montgomery AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Montgomery AL programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Montgomery home, go to the school and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Montgomery AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School near Montgomery Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Montgomery AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior design school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Montgomery Alabama.