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How to Find the Right Interior Designer Degree Program near Montevallo Alabama

Montevallo Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Montevallo AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? Many future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask 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 vs Interior Design

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Montevallo AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room 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 dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Montevallo AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new career in Montevallo AL. Your choice will undoubtedly 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 opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required 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. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Montevallo AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving 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 decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Montevallo AL home. Naturally 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 expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm 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 college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Montevallo AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare 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) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Montevallo AL college you choose should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Montevallo AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Montevallo AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

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 limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Montevallo AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Montevallo home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Montevallo AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Montevallo Interior Design Program

Selecting the right interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many things to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Montevallo Alabama.