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How to Pick the Best Interior Designer Course near Center Point Alabama

Center Point Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Center Point AL, it's time to start 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 get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you begin? Many future students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Center Point AL may specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Center Point AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new career in Center Point AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally 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 cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain 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 offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. 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 wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate 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 individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Center Point AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added 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 program you pick is accredited by a recognized 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 acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

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After you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your Center Point AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design school and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation 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 organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Center Point AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate 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 school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Center Point AL school you choose should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a large network of Center Point AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Center Point AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Center Point AL programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Center Point home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Center Point AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Right Center Point Interior Design College

Choosing the right interior design program is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many things to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Center Point Alabama.