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How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design Program near Calera Alabama

Calera Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Calera 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 interiors, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? Some potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues and other important 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 offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work 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 Calera AL may specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new profession in Calera AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain 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 cover the creative and technical components 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 furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Calera AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized 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 education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

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After you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Calera AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. 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 requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Calera AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several 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 some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Calera AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper 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 received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering 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 school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a sizable network of Calera AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Calera AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors 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 larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Calera AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Calera 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 approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Calera AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Calera Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Best Calera Interior Design College

Choosing the right interior designer college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are many points to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Calera Alabama.