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How to Select the Right Interior Design Degree Program near Mountain Brook Alabama

Mountain Brook Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Mountain Brook AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Many future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal distinction between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Mountain Brook AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

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

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new profession in Mountain Brook AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed 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 short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed 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 two year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized 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 largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Mountain Brook AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire 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 setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Mountain Brook AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Mountain Brook AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Mountain Brook AL program you select should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet 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 want some assistance in finding your first position. 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 an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Mountain Brook AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

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

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Mountain Brook AL schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Mountain Brook home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your hectic 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 Mountain Brook AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Mountain Brook Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Best Mountain Brook Interior Design School

Selecting the ideal interior design college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many factors to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Mountain Brook Alabama.