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How to Pick the Best Interior Designer Degree Program near Boaz Alabama

Boaz Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Boaz 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 spaces, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering before you make your final choice. But exactly where do you start? Many future students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. We will cover 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business 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 taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Boaz AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Boaz AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training needed to start your new career in Boaz AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals 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 several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver 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 degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 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 some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Boaz AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good alternative 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 some students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving 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 decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

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After you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Boaz AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the ideal 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 national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field 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 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Boaz AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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 school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Boaz AL school you choose should also provide the proper education 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? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a significant network of Boaz AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Boaz AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Boaz AL programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Boaz home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design college you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Boaz AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Boaz Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Best Boaz Interior Design Program

Choosing the right interior design college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still essential that you conduct 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 colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Boaz Alabama.