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How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design Program near Brook Highland Alabama

Brook Highland Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Brook Highland AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your skills 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 essential that you carry out the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? 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 important variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will cover those issues 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 talk 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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Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Brook Highland AL may specialize in:

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

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Brook Highland AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new profession in Brook Highland AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally 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 deal with the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Brook Highland AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges 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 structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Brook Highland AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. 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 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 organization. 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 applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Brook Highland AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Brook Highland AL school you choose should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools 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 college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Brook Highland AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Brook Highland AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior design schools offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Brook Highland AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Brook Highland home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer program you choose offers classes the fit your hectic 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 Brook Highland AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Right Brook Highland Interior Design School

Picking the ideal interior designer program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many points to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Brook Highland Alabama.