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How to Select the Best Interior Design School near Calera Alabama

Calera Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Calera AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you perform the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask 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 choices are available.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal distinction between them 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. 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 Bachelor's or Associate Degree and 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 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, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

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

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new profession in Calera AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ 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 colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Calera AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a respected 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 distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Calera AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. 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 college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Calera AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Calera AL school you select should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Calera AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Calera AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Calera AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Calera home, visit the college and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will 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 enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Right Calera Interior Design Program

Picking the ideal interior design college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several factors to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Calera Alabama.