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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer College near Atmore Alabama

Atmore Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Atmore AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you begin? Some future students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas 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 various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Atmore AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new career in Atmore AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required 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 available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely 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 three to five years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate 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 accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added 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 college you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Atmore AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But picking 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 things that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry 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 teachers. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Atmore AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Atmore AL college you choose should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a large network of Atmore AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Atmore AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Atmore AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Atmore home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Atmore AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Courses

Enroll in the Best Atmore Interior Design Program

Picking the right interior designer college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job 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, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance 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 quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Atmore Alabama.