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How to Choose the Best Interior Designer Course near Atmore Alabama

Atmore Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Atmore AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? Some potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will cover those issues and other important 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 training alternatives are offered.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Atmore AL may 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, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly 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 focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

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

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new career in Atmore AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt 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) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short 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 roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance 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 university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Atmore AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. 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 schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college 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 acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

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When you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Atmore AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you choose has been accredited by 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their teachers and programs. 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Atmore AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an excellent education, the Atmore AL program you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate training 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out 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 school has a substantial network of Atmore AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Atmore AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Atmore AL schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Atmore home, go to the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you choose 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 Atmore AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Best Atmore Interior Design School

Picking the right interior design college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Atmore Alabama.