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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Montgomery AL

How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design College

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Montgomery AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? A number of future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration also. We will address those issues and other crucial 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 alternatives are offered.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Montgomery AL

Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The primary difference between the two is the amount 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, working 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 trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Montgomery AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. 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 integrating Feng shui concepts, Montgomery Alabama interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new profession in Montgomery AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Montgomery Alabama interior designer bathroomAfter you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Montgomery AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish 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 available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Montgomery Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Montgomery AL school you select should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

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 schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Montgomery AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Montgomery AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior design programs offer financial aid to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Montgomery AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Montgomery home, visit the college and attend a few classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Montgomery AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Best Interior Design College near Montgomery Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Montgomery AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior designer program is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are many points to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Montgomery Alabama.