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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Tuscaloosa AL

How to Pick the Best Interior Design Program

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Tuscaloosa AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you do the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking 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 vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Tuscaloosa AL

Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The primary difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. 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 trained to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Tuscaloosa AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often 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 particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate 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 focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Tuscaloosa Alabama interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new profession in Tuscaloosa AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide 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) examination mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

What to Ask Interior Design Colleges

Tuscaloosa Alabama interior designer bathroomWhen you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Tuscaloosa AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. 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 requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Tuscaloosa Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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 in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Tuscaloosa AL school you enroll in should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance 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 held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Tuscaloosa AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Tuscaloosa AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Tuscaloosa AL colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Tuscaloosa home, go to the school and sit in on 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 credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer college you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer College near Tuscaloosa Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Tuscaloosa AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tuscaloosa Alabama.