How to Pick an Interior Designer Program near Montgomery Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Montgomery AL, it’s time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it’s imperative that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it’s very important that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? Some prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 vs Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous 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 occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Montgomery AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Montgomery AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new career in Montgomery AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs 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 facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree 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 attaining a Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees offer choices 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. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of “Interior Designer”, a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Schools
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Montgomery AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to 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 colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded 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 learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges
When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school must be within driving distance from your Montgomery AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It’s imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Montgomery AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Ready 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 as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Montgomery AL program you select should also furnish the appropriate training 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 School’s Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a large network of Montgomery AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Montgomery AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of support they provide. A number of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Montgomery AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Montgomery home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Montgomery AL, make sure 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, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Considering Attending Interior Design School in Montgomery AL?
Montgomery is the capital city of the U.S. state of Alabama and the county seat of Montgomery County. Named for Richard Montgomery, it stands beside the Alabama River, on the coastal Plain of the Gulf of Mexico. In the 2010 Census, Montgomery's population was 205,764. It is the second most populous city in Alabama, after Birmingham, and is the 118th most populous in the United States. The Montgomery Metropolitan Statistical Area's population in 2010 was estimated at 374,536; it is the fourth largest in the state and 136th among United States metropolitan areas.
The city was incorporated in 1819 as a merger of two towns situated along the Alabama River. It became the state capital in 1846, representing the shift of power to the south-central area of Alabama with the growth of cotton as a commodity crop of the Black Belt and the rise of Mobile as a mercantile port on the Gulf Coast. In February 1861, Montgomery was chosen the first capital of the Confederate States of America, which it remained until the Confederate seat of government moved to Richmond, Virginia, in May of that year. In the middle of the 20th century, Montgomery was a major center of events and protests in the Civil Rights Movement, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Selma to Montgomery marches.
In addition to housing many Alabama government agencies, Montgomery has a large military presence, due to Maxwell Air Force Base; public universities Alabama State University, Troy University (Montgomery campus), and Auburn University at Montgomery; two private post-secondary institutions, Faulkner University and Huntingdon College; high-tech manufacturing, including Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama; and many cultural attractions, such as the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.
Choose the Ideal Interior Design School near Montgomery AL
Choosing the right interior designer college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to recieve an advanced education, there are many points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. 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 evaluate and compare programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Montgomery AL.
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