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How to Pick the Right Interior Design College near Arab Alabama

Arab Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Arab AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you do the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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

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

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Arab AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new profession in Arab AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to choose 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 covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Arab AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Arab AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Arab AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate 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 school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Arab AL school you select should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a large network of Arab AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Arab AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of aid they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Arab AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Arab home, visit the campus and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Arab 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.

Find Out More About Arab Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Best Arab Interior Design Program

Picking the ideal interior designer college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Arab Alabama.