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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Montgomery AL

How to Select the Right Interior Designer Course

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program 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 imperative that you receive the appropriate 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 vital that you carry out the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But where do you start? Many future students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Montgomery AL

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key difference between them is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. 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 and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Montgomery AL may specialize in:

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

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need 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 concepts, Montgomery Alabama interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new profession in Montgomery AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt 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 field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Why Study 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.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Montgomery AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design college and program that you enroll in 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Montgomery Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Montgomery AL program you select should also furnish the appropriate 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a significant network of Montgomery AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Montgomery AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Montgomery AL colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Montgomery home, go to the school and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Montgomery AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Design Program near Montgomery Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Montgomery AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior design program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many things to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still important 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 schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Montgomery Alabama.