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How to Select the Right Interior Designer School near Hueytown Alabama

Hueytown Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Hueytown AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration 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 first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates 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 attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Hueytown AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically 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 commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed 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 need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Hueytown AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to launch your new profession in Hueytown AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure 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 benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve 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 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Hueytown AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you pick is accredited by a highly regarded 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 discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Hueytown AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Hueytown AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate 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 program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Hueytown AL school you enroll in should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill 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 undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a substantial network of Hueytown AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Hueytown AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

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 attention from the teachers. Ask the Hueytown AL schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Hueytown home, visit the college and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer college you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Hueytown AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Best Hueytown Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several points to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Hueytown Alabama.