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How to Find the Right Interior Designer College near Attalla Alabama

Attalla Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Attalla AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you begin? Some prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues 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 training alternatives are offered.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Attalla AL may specialize in:

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

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Attalla AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new profession in Attalla AL. Your choice will no doubt 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 choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated 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 supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain 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 business required 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 supply advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire 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.

In order to work as a professional and adopt 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 field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Attalla AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. 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 many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you pick is accredited by a recognized 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 online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Attalla AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer college and program that you select has been accredited by 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Attalla AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get 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 requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Attalla AL program you choose should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination 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 design certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Attalla AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Attalla AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Attalla AL schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Attalla home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with some 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 Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college 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 at night or on weekends near Attalla 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, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Right Attalla Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior design school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many things to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Attalla Alabama.