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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Montgomery AL

How to Select the Best Interior Design School

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Montgomery AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you do the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? Some prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 available.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Montgomery AL

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The key 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 spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Montgomery AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to 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 concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example 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 selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Montgomery Alabama interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new career in Montgomery AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven 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 choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation 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 education required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Online Interior Designer Degree Programs

Montgomery AL student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Montgomery AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Montgomery AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. 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, a number of Montgomery Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Montgomery AL school you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Montgomery AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Montgomery AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Montgomery AL colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Montgomery home, visit the college and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Montgomery AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design School near Montgomery Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Montgomery AlabamaSelecting the right interior design college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many points to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Montgomery Alabama.