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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School near Anniston Alabama

Anniston Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Anniston AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other vital 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 alternatives are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Anniston AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently 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, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must 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 principles, Anniston AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new profession in Anniston AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Anniston AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great option 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 alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Anniston 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 fee for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. 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 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 college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Anniston AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require 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 college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Anniston AL school you choose should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high 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 in demand. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of Anniston AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Anniston AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Anniston AL schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Anniston home, visit the school and attend a few classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Anniston AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Anniston Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Right Anniston Interior Design College

Picking the ideal interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are several factors to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Anniston Alabama.