Interior Designer Program
How to Find the Best One Near Birmingham Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Birmingham AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. It's important that you get the appropriate training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a knack for designing residential or commercial interiors. And since interior designers are licensed in several states, the college you select should prep you to pass any required licensing test as well as provide the proper training for your specialty. So it's vital you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But just where do you start? When checking out interior design schools, many potential students start by zeroing in on the ones that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. There are various other considerations that you should weigh when reviewing schools, such as accreditation and reputation. We will discuss those topics 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 cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.
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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key distinction between them is the amount of education required. Anyone 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 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 taught to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Birmingham 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 the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must 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, Birmingham AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new career in Birmingham AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many 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 extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Courses
For students who to study in the convenience of their Birmingham AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be 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 online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Birmingham AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation 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 organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Birmingham AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require 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 school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Birmingham AL program you choose should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet 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 attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a large network of Birmingham AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Birmingham AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Birmingham AL schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Birmingham home, visit the college and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Birmingham AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Birmingham Interior Design School
Choosing the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several points to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. It is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Birmingham Alabama.