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How to Find the Right Interior Design Program near Montevallo Alabama

Montevallo Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Montevallo AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? Many future students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess 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 a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Montevallo AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus 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 emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Montevallo AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new career in Montevallo AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Montevallo AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges 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 minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, 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 discipline to obtain 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 Design Programs

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After you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Montevallo AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Montevallo AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get 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 school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Montevallo AL college you choose should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination 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 obtained your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Montevallo AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Montevallo AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. A number of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program 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 aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized 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 few classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Montevallo AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Montevallo Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Right Montevallo Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior design college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several things to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Montevallo Alabama.