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

Brook Highland Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school 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 residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get 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 preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But just where do you begin? Some prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking 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 class choices are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Brook Highland AL can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new career in Brook Highland AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree 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 require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Brook Highland AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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When you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Brook Highland AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure 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 industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Brook Highland AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require 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 mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Brook Highland AL school you choose should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill 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 earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a significant network of Brook Highland AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Brook Highland AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Brook Highland AL colleges you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Brook Highland home, go to the school and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending 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 you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Brook Highland Interior Design School

Selecting the right interior design program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are several 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 field. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Brook Highland Alabama.