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How to Select the Best Interior Designer College near Attalla Alabama

Attalla Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Attalla 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 get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each school that you are considering before you make your final decision. But exactly where do you start? Some potential students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking 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 training alternatives are available.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Attalla AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Attalla AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to begin your new profession in Attalla AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential 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 design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Attalla 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 attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

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When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Attalla AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment 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 agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Attalla AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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 in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Attalla AL school you select should also furnish the proper instruction 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 School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a large network of Attalla AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Attalla AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? 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. Find out from the Attalla AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Attalla home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer school you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Attalla AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Right Attalla Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided 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 desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Attalla Alabama.