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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Vestavia Hills AL

How to Find the Right Interior Designer Course

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Vestavia Hills AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking 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 class choices are offered.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Vestavia Hills AL

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The principal distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Vestavia Hills AL may specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degrees

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to launch your new profession in Vestavia Hills AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for 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 brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of 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 deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets 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 job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Vestavia Hills Alabama interior designer bathroomOnce you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Vestavia Hills AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their instructors 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 education are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Vestavia Hills Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an excellent education, the Vestavia Hills AL program you select should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a sizable network of Vestavia Hills AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Vestavia Hills AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Vestavia Hills AL schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Vestavia Hills home, go to the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer college you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening 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, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design School near Vestavia Hills Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Vestavia Hills AlabamaChoosing the right interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several things to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Vestavia Hills Alabama.