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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Vestavia Hills AL

How to Choose the Best Interior Designer School

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Vestavia Hills AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Vestavia Hills AL

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

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically 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 Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Vestavia Hills Alabama interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to begin your new profession in Vestavia Hills AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five 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 some instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Why Do You Want to Be 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.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Vestavia Hills 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 qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected 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 programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial aid 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 mentioned earlier, 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 as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Vestavia Hills AL school you enroll in should also furnish the suitable 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 School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Vestavia Hills AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Vestavia Hills AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Vestavia Hills AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Vestavia Hills home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there talk 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Best Interior Designer Program near Vestavia Hills Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Vestavia Hills AlabamaPicking the right interior designer program is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several things to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Vestavia Hills Alabama.