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How to Pick the Right Interior Designer College near Calera Alabama

Calera Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Calera AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final selection. But exactly where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. We will address those issues 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Calera AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically 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 particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Calera AL interior designers employ 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 obtain the training required to launch your new profession in Calera AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Calera AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

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When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your Calera AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected 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 assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Calera AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School 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) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Calera AL program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance 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 profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Calera AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Calera AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Calera AL colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Calera home, visit the campus and attend a few classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer program you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Calera AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Calera Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Best Calera Interior Design Program

Selecting the ideal interior designer college is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Calera Alabama.