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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Tuscaloosa AL

How to Pick the Right Interior Design School

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Tuscaloosa AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential 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, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? A number of future students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Tuscaloosa AL

Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The principal distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Tuscaloosa AL can specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Tuscaloosa Alabama interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Training Programs

There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new career in Tuscaloosa AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily 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 three to five years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Why Train to Become an Interior Designer?

Tuscaloosa 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.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Tuscaloosa AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Tuscaloosa Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Tuscaloosa AL program you choose should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Tuscaloosa AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Tuscaloosa AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial aid to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Tuscaloosa AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Tuscaloosa home, visit the college and attend a few classes. While there talk with a few students and find out 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design program you select provides 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 Tuscaloosa AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Choose the Best Interior Designer Program near Tuscaloosa Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Tuscaloosa AlabamaChoosing the right interior design school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are several things to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tuscaloosa Alabama.