Home >> Alabama >> Vestavia Hills >> Interior Design Colleges


Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Vestavia Hills AL

How to Pick the Best Interior Designer College

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Vestavia Hills AL, it's time to start 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 receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But where do you start? Many future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.

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

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Vestavia Hills AL

Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education 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 living areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Vestavia Hills AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality 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 may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Vestavia Hills Alabama interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are four degree options available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new profession in Vestavia Hills AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required 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 accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things 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. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

Vestavia Hills Alabama interior designer bathroomAfter 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 issue, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Vestavia Hills AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design school and program 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 receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Vestavia Hills Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require 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 college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Vestavia Hills AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

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

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Vestavia Hills AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of support they provide. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Vestavia Hills AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Vestavia Hills home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design School near Vestavia Hills Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Vestavia Hills AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior designer college is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of points to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges 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 Vestavia Hills Alabama.