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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design School near Andalusia Alabama

Andalusia Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Andalusia AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are considering before you make your final selection. But where do you start? A number of future students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 choices are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, 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 living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Andalusia AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential 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 produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Andalusia AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new career in Andalusia AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Andalusia AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Andalusia AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm 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 education are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Andalusia AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Andalusia AL college you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Andalusia AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Andalusia AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of support they offer. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Andalusia AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Andalusia home, go to the school and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to 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 offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Right Andalusia Interior Design School

Picking the right interior design school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Andalusia Alabama.