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How to Select the Right Interior Design College near Atmore Alabama

Atmore Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Atmore AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require 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 do the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? A number of future students will start their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking 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 choices are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Atmore AL can specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Atmore AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to start your new profession in Atmore AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Atmore AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited by a recognized 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 online or distance education. 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 ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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After 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 a critical issue, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Atmore AL residence. Obviously 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 narrow down your choices also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. 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 gone through a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Atmore AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers become 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 program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Atmore AL college you select should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges 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 school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a substantial network of Atmore AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Atmore AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of support they offer. Many of interior design programs provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Atmore AL colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Atmore home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Atmore AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask 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 Right Atmore Interior Design Program

Selecting the right interior designer program is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Atmore Alabama.