How to Find an Interior Designer Program near Decatur Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Decatur AL, it’s time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it’s essential that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it’s essential that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But just where do you begin? Many potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you must ask 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 training choices are offered.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education 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 spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Decatur AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Decatur AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new profession in Decatur AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced 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 certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous 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 in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master’s Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such 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 largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of “Interior Designer”, many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Schools
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Decatur AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Decatur AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It’s necessary to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Decatur AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Decatur AL school you enroll in should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College’s Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. 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 a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of Decatur AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Decatur AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Decatur AL schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Decatur home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Decatur AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Considering Attending Interior Design School in Decatur AL?
Decatur is a city in Morgan and Limestone counties in the State of Alabama. The city, nicknamed "The River City", is located in Northern Alabama on the banks of Wheeler Lake, along the Tennessee River. It is the largest city and county seat of Morgan County. The population in 2010 was 55,683.
Decatur is also the core city of the two-county large Decatur, Alabama metropolitan area which had an estimated population of 153,374 in 2013. Combined with the Huntsville Metropolitan Area, the two create the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area, of which Decatur is the second-largest city.
Like many southern cities in the early 19th century, Decatur's early success was based upon its location along a river. Railroad routes and boating traffic pushed the city to the front of North Alabama's economic atmosphere. The city rapidly grew into a large economic center within the Tennessee Valley and was a hub for travelers and cargo between Nashville and Mobile, as well as Chattanooga and New Orleans. Throughout the 20th century, the city experienced steady growth, but was eclipsed as the regional economic center by the fast-growing Huntsville during the space race. The city now finds its economy heavily based on manufacturing, mining, cargo transit, chemical, and high-tech companies such as Vulcan Materials, Daikin, Toray, United Launch Alliance.
Select the Ideal Interior Design School near Decatur AL
Choosing the right interior design school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Decatur AL.
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