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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Vestavia Hills AL

How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Vestavia Hills AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But where do you start? Many prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 alternatives are offered.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Vestavia Hills AL

Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The main difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Vestavia Hills AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are various areas of residential and commercial 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 carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Vestavia Hills Alabama interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training required to launch your new profession in Vestavia Hills AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs 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 lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt 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 needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Why Become an Interior Designer?

Vestavia Hills 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 chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Vestavia Hills AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Vestavia Hills Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get 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 college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Vestavia Hills AL college you choose should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Vestavia Hills AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Vestavia Hills AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Vestavia Hills AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Vestavia Hills home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer college you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Design Program near Vestavia Hills Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Vestavia Hills AlabamaPicking the right interior designer college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations 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 quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Vestavia Hills Alabama.