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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Montgomery AL

How to Select the Best Interior Design Program

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Montgomery AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered as well. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk 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 decoration for interior design. The key distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Montgomery AL can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Montgomery Alabama interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new career in Montgomery AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Montgomery Alabama interior designer bathroomAfter you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Montgomery AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Montgomery Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become 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 school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Montgomery AL school you enroll in should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students 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 employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Montgomery AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Montgomery AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Montgomery home, go to the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some 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 Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night 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 option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Program near Montgomery Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Montgomery AlabamaSelecting the right interior designer program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several points to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Montgomery Alabama.