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How to Find the Best 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 gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But where do you start? Many potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking 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 offered.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires 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 trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Arab AL can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to start your new career in Arab AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Arab AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a great option 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 convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Once you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Arab AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design college and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when securing financial assistance 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 programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get 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 college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Arab AL program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a large network of Arab AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Arab AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Arab AL colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Arab home, visit the college and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Arab AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Arab Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Best Arab Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior design school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many points to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs 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 Arab Alabama.