How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Program near Birmingham Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Birmingham AL, it’s time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it’s essential that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it’s crucial that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Many future students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.
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Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main 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 areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor’s Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Birmingham AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Birmingham AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to begin your new profession in Birmingham AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit 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 take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master’s Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of “Interior Designer”, a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Degree Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Birmingham AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only 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 study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Schools
Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Birmingham AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It’s essential to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Birmingham AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require 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 college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Birmingham AL school you enroll in should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program’s Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Birmingham AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Birmingham AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of support they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Birmingham AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Birmingham home, go to the college and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer program you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Birmingham AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Interior Design Programs Near Me Birmingham AL
Choosing the right interior design program is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. You originally came upon this website because you had an interest in Interior Design Programs Near Me and wanted more info on the topic Interior Design Accredited Schools. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Birmingham AL.
Other Alabama Designer Locations
Birmingham (/ˈbɜːrmɪŋhæm/ BUR-ming-ham) is a city in the north central region of the U.S. state of Alabama. With an estimated 2018 population of 209,880, it is the most populous city in Alabama. Birmingham is the seat of Jefferson County, Alabama's most populous and fifth largest county. As of 2018, the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 1,151,801, making it the most populous in Alabama and 49th-most populous in the United States. Birmingham serves as an important regional hub and is associated with the Deep South, Piedmont, and Appalachian regions of the nation.
Birmingham was founded in 1871, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, through the merger of three farm towns, most notably Elyton. The new city was named for Birmingham, England, the United Kingdom's second largest city and then a major industrial city. The Alabama city annexed its smaller neighbors as it developed into a major industrial center based on mining, the iron and steel industry, and rail transport. Most of the original settlers were of English ancestry. The city was developed as a place where low paid, non-unionized immigrants (mainly Irish and Italian), along with African-Americans from rural Alabama, who worked in the city's steel mills and blast furnaces and gave it a competitive advantage over unionized industrial cities of the Midwest and Northeast.:14
From its founding through the end of the 1960s, Birmingham was a primary industrial center of the southern United States. Its rapid growth from 1881 through 1920 earned it the nicknames "The Magic City" and "The Pittsburgh of the South". Its major industries were iron and steel production. Major components of the railroad industry, including rails and railroad cars, were made in Birmingham. The two primary hubs of railroading in the "Deep South" have been Birmingham and Atlanta. The economy began to diversify in the latter half of the twentieth century, as the steel mills began to shut down. Banking, telecommunications, transportation, electrical power transmission, medical care, college education, and insurance have become its major economic activities. Birmingham now ranks as one of the largest banking centers in the U.S. It is also one of the important business centers of the Southeast.
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