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How to Pick the Right Interior Design School near Alexander City Alabama

Alexander City Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Alexander City AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? A number of prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will address those issues 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 options are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many 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 areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Alexander City AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Alexander City AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new profession in Alexander City AL. Your selection 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 opt to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business required 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 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the comfort of their Alexander City AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Alexander City AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Alexander City AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get 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 school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Alexander City AL school you enroll in should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a sizable network of Alexander City AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Alexander City AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Alexander City AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Alexander City home, go to the campus and sit in on 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Alexander City AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Right Alexander City Interior Design School

Picking the ideal interior design program is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alexander City Alabama.