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How to Pick the Right Interior Designer College near Andalusia Alabama

Andalusia Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Andalusia AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But where do you begin? A number of prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires 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 residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Andalusia AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

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

Interior Design Degree Options

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

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional 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 required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Andalusia AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Andalusia 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 qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Andalusia AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Andalusia AL school you choose should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School'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 assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a large network of Andalusia AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Andalusia AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is essential 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 Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Andalusia AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Andalusia home, go to the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Andalusia AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Courses

Enroll in the Best Andalusia Interior Design School

Selecting the right interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several things to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still important that you perform 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 colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Andalusia Alabama.