Home >> Alabama >> Vestavia Hills >> Interior Design Schools


Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Vestavia Hills AL

How to Choose the Best Interior Designer College

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design 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 commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But where do you start? Many potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.

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

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Vestavia Hills AL

Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The primary distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business 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 requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects 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 Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, 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 concern.

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

Interior Design Degrees

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new career in Vestavia Hills AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed 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 furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives 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 degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Online Interior Designer Schools

Vestavia Hills AL student attending interior design school onlineFor those who wish to study in the comfort of their Vestavia Hills AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, 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 distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Vestavia Hills AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. 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 school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered 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 Program Ready 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 college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Vestavia Hills AL college you choose should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing 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 looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of Vestavia Hills AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Vestavia Hills AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Vestavia Hills AL schools you are considering 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 backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative 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 AlabamaChoosing the right interior designer college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are several things to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest 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 ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Vestavia Hills Alabama.