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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Vestavia Hills AL

How to Choose the Right Interior Design Course

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Vestavia Hills 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 obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? Many potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at 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 available.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Vestavia Hills AL

Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The principal distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Vestavia Hills 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 can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Vestavia Hills Alabama interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new profession in Vestavia Hills AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four 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 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 provide advanced design training after acquiring 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 enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Designer Online Schools

Vestavia Hills AL student attending interior design school onlineFor students who wish to study in the convenience of their Vestavia Hills AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Vestavia Hills AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national 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 education are excellent, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Vestavia Hills Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get 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 program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Vestavia Hills AL college you select should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam 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? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Vestavia Hills AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Vestavia Hills AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Vestavia Hills AL schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Vestavia Hills home, visit the school and monitor a few classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Best Interior Design School near Vestavia Hills Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Vestavia Hills AlabamaChoosing the right interior designer program is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many things to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. 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 effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Vestavia Hills Alabama.