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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Tuscaloosa AL

How to Choose the Right Interior Design Course

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Tuscaloosa AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you carry out the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But just where do you begin? Some future students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 options are offered.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Tuscaloosa AL

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The principal difference between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories 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 essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

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

Interior Designer Degrees

There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new career in Tuscaloosa AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth 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 credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Online Interior Designer Colleges

Tuscaloosa AL student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Tuscaloosa AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional 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 make sure that the college you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive 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 structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs

Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Tuscaloosa AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. 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 gone through a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Tuscaloosa Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require 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 mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Tuscaloosa AL college you enroll in should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a substantial network of Tuscaloosa AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Tuscaloosa AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they offer. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Tuscaloosa AL schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Tuscaloosa home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design School near Tuscaloosa Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Tuscaloosa AlabamaChoosing the right interior design school is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the 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 drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tuscaloosa Alabama.