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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Vestavia Hills AL

How to Choose the Best Interior Designer Program

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program 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 important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some 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 very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final choice. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will kick off 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 determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk 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

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The principal distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Vestavia Hills AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

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

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new career in Vestavia Hills AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover 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 job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Online Interior Design Schools

Vestavia Hills AL student attending interior design school onlineFor students who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Vestavia Hills AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized 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 online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges

Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Vestavia Hills AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the least expensive 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 look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure 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 college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Vestavia Hills Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Vestavia Hills AL college you enroll in should also furnish the proper education 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 College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained 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 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 in demand. It might also signify that the school has a significant network of Vestavia Hills AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Vestavia Hills AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they offer. Many of interior design programs provide financial aid to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Vestavia Hills AL schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Vestavia Hills home, visit the college and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer College near Vestavia Hills Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Vestavia Hills AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior designer school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Vestavia Hills Alabama.