Interior Designer School
How to Find the Best One Near Birmingham Alabama
So it’s time to begin the process of picking an interior design school near Birmingham AL now that you have made a career choice to study to be an interior designer. It's imperative that you get the appropriate training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors. And because interior designers are licensed in a number of states, the school you choose should prep you to pass any required licensing exam as well as provide the necessary training for your specialty. So it's very important you do the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? When checking out interior design programs, many potential students start by zeroing in on those that are closest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. There are many other qualifications that you should weigh when reviewing schools, such as accreditation and reputation. 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 training choices are available.
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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Birmingham AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Birmingham AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to start your new profession in Birmingham AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and use 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 required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Colleges
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Birmingham AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. 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 sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added 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 be sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain 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 program may be the perfect option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges
When you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college must be within commuting distance from your Birmingham AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Birmingham AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Birmingham AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask 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 field and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a significant network of Birmingham AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Birmingham AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Birmingham AL programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Birmingham home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Birmingham AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Find Out More About How to Become an Interior Designer in Birmingham
Choose the Best Birmingham Interior Design School
Choosing the ideal interior designer program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. It is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Birmingham Alabama.
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