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How to Find the Right Interior Design Program near Brook Highland Alabama

Brook Highland Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Brook Highland AL, it's time to begin 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 obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But where do you start? Some potential students will start their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone 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 requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Brook Highland AL can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Brook Highland AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to begin your new career in Brook Highland AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually 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 facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining the 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 the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Brook Highland AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed 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 many students online colleges may be the sole alternative 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 expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Brook Highland AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national 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 undergone an extensive evaluation 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 organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Brook Highland AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Brook Highland AL program you select should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Brook Highland AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Brook Highland AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Brook Highland AL programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Brook Highland home, visit the college and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer program you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to 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 offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Best Brook Highland Interior Design College

Choosing the right interior designer program is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are a number of things to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Brook Highland Alabama.