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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Course near Anniston Alabama

Anniston Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Anniston AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your talents 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 examination as well. So it's very important that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But just where do you begin? Many potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Anniston AL may specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Anniston AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new profession in Anniston AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be addressed 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 provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade 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 two year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving the 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 improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely 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 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Anniston AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a good option 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 home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, 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 distance or online education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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After you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your Anniston AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone 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 agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Anniston AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Anniston AL program you enroll in should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Anniston AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Anniston AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of support they offer. Many of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Anniston AL programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Anniston home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design college you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Anniston AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Anniston Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Right Anniston Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior designer program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm 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 recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Anniston Alabama.