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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Montgomery AL

How to Choose the Right Interior Design College

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school 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 right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are considering before you make your final choice. But where do you begin? Some potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered also. We will discuss those topics and other vital 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 alternatives are available.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Montgomery AL

Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The primary difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. 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 as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Montgomery AL may specialize in:

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

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Montgomery Alabama interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new profession in Montgomery AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees 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 3 to 5 years.

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

Why Train to Become an Interior Designer?

Montgomery AL student attending interior design school onlineThere are many options available to you once you graduate and enter the field of interior design.  If you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit you may become self-employed and open your own interior design shop. You might also work for a small or larger design firm. Designers have careers creating interiors for businesses, hospitals, government buildings, as well as private residences. Rarely is a design career a 9 to 5 job. You’ll need to be flexible, patient, and persistent to get your career off the ground. But you will have the opportunity to earn an attractive income as well as the personal satisfaction of creating beautiful living and working spaces.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Montgomery AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national 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 instructors and programs. Just verify 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Montgomery Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Montgomery AL school you select should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools 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 a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Montgomery AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Montgomery AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Montgomery AL schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Montgomery home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Montgomery AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Designer Program near Montgomery Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Montgomery AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior design program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are several factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Montgomery Alabama.