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

Center Point Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Center Point AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you begin? Some prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

Center Point Alabama interior designed modern office conference room

Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal distinction 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, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Center Point AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Center Point AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new career in Center Point AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Center Point AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Center Point AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you select has been accredited by 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation 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 recognized accrediting agency. 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 applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Center Point AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become 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 calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Center Point AL school you enroll in should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with 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 want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Center Point AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Center Point AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Center Point AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Center Point home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Center Point AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Best Center Point Interior Design School

Picking the ideal interior design college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several points to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. 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 effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Center Point Alabama.