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How to Find the Right Interior Design Program near Andalusia Alabama

Andalusia Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Andalusia AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? Some future students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Andalusia AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal 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 may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Andalusia AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to launch your new career in Andalusia AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Andalusia AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Andalusia AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national 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 an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Andalusia AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get 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 college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So besides providing an excellent education, the Andalusia AL program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school 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 school has a significant network of Andalusia AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Andalusia AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they provide. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is imperative 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 assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Andalusia AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Andalusia home, go to the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few 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 Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer program you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Andalusia AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Right Andalusia Interior Design School

Choosing the ideal interior design program is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools 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 Andalusia Alabama.