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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Program near Center Point Alabama

Center Point Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Center Point AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? Some future students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should 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 researching 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 alternatives are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between the two 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 areas. On the other hand, doing business 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 trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Center Point AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For 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 consideration.

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

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new profession in Center Point AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide 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) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered 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 amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at many 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 extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such 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 mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

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 colleges. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Center Point AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. 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 gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Center Point AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Center Point AL program you enroll in should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt 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 highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Center Point AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Center Point AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of support they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Center Point AL colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Center Point home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there talk 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 Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer college you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Center Point AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Center Point Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Best Center Point Interior Design Program

Picking the right interior design program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many factors to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Center Point Alabama.