Home >> Alabama >> Tuscaloosa >> Interior Design Degrees


Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Tuscaloosa AL

How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Tuscaloosa AL, it's time to start the process of selecting 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 natural abilities 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 crucial that you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But where do you begin? Some potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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.

Start Your Interior Design Career By Requesting Free Info on Local Schools Below

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Tuscaloosa AL

Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business 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 taught to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On various 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 Designing. Interior Designers typically 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, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

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

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new career in Tuscaloosa AL. Your choice will no doubt 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 pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available 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 four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty 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. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges

Tuscaloosa Alabama interior designer bathroomWhen you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Tuscaloosa AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded 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 assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training 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 employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become 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 school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Tuscaloosa AL college you choose should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Tuscaloosa AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Tuscaloosa AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Tuscaloosa AL colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Tuscaloosa home, go to the college and attend a few classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Best Interior Designer School near Tuscaloosa Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Tuscaloosa AlabamaSelecting the right interior design program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a college where you will receive 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 receive a higher education, there are several points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tuscaloosa Alabama.