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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Tuscaloosa AL

How to Pick the Right Interior Design Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Tuscaloosa AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But where do you start? Some potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Tuscaloosa AL

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The principal difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Tuscaloosa AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance 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 main concern.

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

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to start your new profession in Tuscaloosa AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 provide advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use 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 called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Why Do You Want to Be 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.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges

When you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Tuscaloosa AL home. 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 expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to verify 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 receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Tuscaloosa Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Tuscaloosa AL college you choose should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Tuscaloosa AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Tuscaloosa AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of support they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Tuscaloosa AL colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Tuscaloosa home, go to the college and monitor a couple of 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 experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School near Tuscaloosa Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Tuscaloosa AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior design school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tuscaloosa Alabama.