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How to Select the Right Interior Designer College near Arab Alabama

Arab Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Arab AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you start? Many future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Arab AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

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

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new career in Arab AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student 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 achieving a 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 enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs 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 three to five years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Arab AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded 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 distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs

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When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Arab AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Arab AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Arab AL program you enroll in should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with 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 obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering 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 highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a large network of Arab AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Arab AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Arab AL colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Arab home, visit the campus and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer program you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Arab AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Arab Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Right Arab Interior Design School

Picking the right interior designer college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many points to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Arab Alabama.