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How to Choose the Right Interior Design School near Mountain Brook Alabama

Mountain Brook Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Mountain Brook AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues 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 issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Mountain Brook AL can specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Mountain Brook AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new career in Mountain Brook AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have 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 mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty 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. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually 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 schools become licensed. In some 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 students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Mountain Brook AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. 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 sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, 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 education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Mountain Brook AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design college and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure 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 exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Mountain Brook AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Mountain Brook AL program you enroll in should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Mountain Brook AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Mountain Brook AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Mountain Brook AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Mountain Brook home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and ask 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, make sure that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Mountain Brook AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Mountain Brook Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Best Mountain Brook Interior Design School

Selecting the ideal interior designer college is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate 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 a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Mountain Brook Alabama.