Interior Designer Program
How to Enroll in the Best One Near Birmingham Alabama
So it’s time to begin the process of selecting an interior design school near Birmingham AL once you have made a career decision to study to be an interior designer. 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 school you choose should prep you to pass any required licensing exam and provide the proper training for your specialty. So in order to assess and compare each college you are reviewing before you make your final selection it's very important that you carry out the proper research. But just how do you approach enrolling in the right program? Many prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. However, a school is not always the best choice simply because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at 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.
IT TAKES JUST A FEW MINUTES TO START YOUR INTERIOR DESIGN CAREER BELOW!
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. 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 and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Birmingham AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically 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, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Birmingham AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new profession in Birmingham AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance 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 college or university level. The programs vary in length but are usually 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 colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Courses
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Birmingham AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Birmingham AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design college and program that you enroll in 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Birmingham AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Birmingham AL school you choose should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a substantial network of Birmingham AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Birmingham AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Birmingham AL programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Birmingham home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Birmingham AL, verify 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, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Birmingham Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior design school is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in 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. It is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Birmingham Alabama.