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How to Choose the Best Interior Design Program near Boaz Alabama

Boaz Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Boaz 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 receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you do the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? Many potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Boaz AL can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new profession in Boaz AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be addressed 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 profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized 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. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Boaz AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Boaz AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous 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 agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Boaz AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require 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 college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Boaz AL program 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 working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Boaz AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Boaz AL schools you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative 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 offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Boaz AL programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Boaz home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out 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? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Boaz AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Best Boaz Interior Design Program

Picking the right interior designer program is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several points to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. 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 perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Boaz Alabama.