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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Course near Center Point Alabama

Center Point Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Center Point AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering before you make your final choice. But where do you start? Some prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will cover 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 vs Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Center Point AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. 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 can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate primarily 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 emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Center Point AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Design Degrees

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

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. 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 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", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the comfort of their Center Point AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to 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 colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain 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 structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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When you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Center Point AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their instructors 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 organization. Not only will it help verify 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 accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Center Point AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several 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 professional experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Center Point AL college you choose should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Center Point AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Center Point AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Center Point AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Center Point home, go to the college and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Center Point AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Right Center Point Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior design school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several points to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Center Point Alabama.