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How to Choose the Best Interior Designer Degree Program near Mountain Brook Alabama

Mountain Brook Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Mountain Brook AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Some prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main distinction between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Mountain Brook AL can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new career in Mountain Brook AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several 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 supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs 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 components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

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

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Mountain Brook AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be 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 colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Mountain Brook AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when securing 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 schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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 program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Mountain Brook AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a sizable network of Mountain Brook AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Mountain Brook AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Mountain Brook AL programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Mountain Brook home, go to the college and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Mountain Brook AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Mountain Brook Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Best Mountain Brook Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior design program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Mountain Brook Alabama.