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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Montgomery AL

How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Course

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Montgomery AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But just where do you begin? Some prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask 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 options are offered.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Montgomery AL

Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The main distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working 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 taught to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Montgomery AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. 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 may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus primarily 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 hospitals and banks 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 lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Montgomery Alabama interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new profession in Montgomery AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with 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 obtain 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 advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Online Interior Designer Degree Programs

Montgomery AL student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing to attend classes in the convenience of their Montgomery AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving 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 be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

After you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Montgomery AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you choose has been accredited by 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance 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 positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require 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 some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Montgomery AL school you select should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a large network of Montgomery AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Montgomery AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Montgomery AL schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Montgomery home, visit the school and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to 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 attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Choose the Best Interior Design Program near Montgomery Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Montgomery AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Montgomery Alabama.