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How to Pick the Best Interior Designer Program near Brook Highland Alabama

Brook Highland Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Brook Highland AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? Many potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Brook Highland AL may specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Brook Highland AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Design 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 influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment 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 creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take 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 programs. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Brook Highland AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Brook Highland AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College 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 in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Brook Highland AL program you choose should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of Brook Highland AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Brook Highland AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Brook Highland AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Brook Highland home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Brook Highland AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Right Brook Highland Interior Design School

Selecting the right interior design college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Brook Highland Alabama.