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How to Select the Right Interior Design College near Mountain Brook Alabama

Mountain Brook Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Mountain Brook AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? Many future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those issues and other vital 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 available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary distinction between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires 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 living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Mountain Brook AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Mountain Brook AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new career in Mountain Brook AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Mountain Brook AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. 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 only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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After you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Mountain Brook AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Mountain Brook AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Mountain Brook AL program you select should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Mountain Brook AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Mountain Brook AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Mountain Brook AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Mountain Brook home, visit the campus and monitor a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Mountain Brook AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Mountain Brook Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Right Mountain Brook Interior Design Program

Selecting the right interior design college is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still essential 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 effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Mountain Brook Alabama.