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Best Online Interior Design Schools Birmingham AL

How to Select the Right Interior Designer College Birmingham 35201

interior designed Birmingham AL family roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Birmingham AL, it’s time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it’s imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it’s essential that you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Many potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

commercial interior designed Birmingham AL conference roomMany people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business 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 necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor’s or Associate Degree as well as 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 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Birmingham 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 a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Birmingham AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degrees

interior designed kitchen in Birmingham ALThere are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new career in Birmingham AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master’s Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring a 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 the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of “Interior Designer”, a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Online Interior Design Colleges

woman attending interior design school online in Birmingham ALFor those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Birmingham AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving 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 decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Questions to ask Birmingham AL interior design coursesNow that you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Birmingham AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It’s necessary to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. 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 evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Birmingham AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Birmingham AL college you choose should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a significant network of Birmingham AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Birmingham AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Birmingham AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Birmingham home, visit the college and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Birmingham AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enrolling in an Interior Design School near Birmingham AL?

Perhaps you are considering attending an interior design degree program in the Birmingham Alabama area.  If so, you may find the following information about the location of your new school campus interesting and informative.

Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham (/ˈbɜːrmɪŋhæm/ BUR-ming-ham) is a city located in the north central region of the U.S. state of Alabama. With an estimated 2017 population of 210,710, it is the most populous city in Alabama.[4] Birmingham is the seat of Jefferson County, Alabama's most populous and fifth largest county. As of 2017, the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 1,149,807, 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 pre-existing farm towns, most notably Elyton. The new city was named for Birmingham, England, the UK's second largest city and, at the time, a major industrial city. The Alabama city annexed smaller neighbors and developed as an industrial center, based on mining, the new iron and steel industry, and rail transport. Most of the original settlers who founded Birmingham were of English ancestry.[5] The city was developed as a place where cheap, non-unionized immigrant labor (primarily Irish and Italian), along with African-American labor from rural Alabama, could be employed in the city's steel mills and blast furnaces, giving it a competitive advantage over unionized industrial cities in the Midwest and Northeast.[6]:14

From its founding through the end of the 1960s, Birmingham was a primary industrial center of the southern United States. Its growth from 1881 through 1920 earned it nicknames such as "The Magic City" and "The Pittsburgh of the South". Its major industries were iron and steel production. Major components of the railroad industry, rails and railroad cars, were manufactured in Birmingham. Since the 1860s, the two primary hubs of railroading in the "Deep South" have been Birmingham and Atlanta. The economy diversified in the latter half of the 20th century. Banking, telecommunications, transportation, electrical power transmission, medical care, college education, and insurance have become major economic activities. Birmingham ranks as one of the largest banking centers in the U.S. Also, it is among the most important business centers in the Southeast.

Select the Ideal Interior Design School near Birmingham AL

Birmingham AL interior designed bathroomPicking the ideal interior designer program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. You originally came upon this website because you had an initial interest in Best Online Interior Design Schools. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Birmingham AL.

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