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How to Find the Best Interior Design Degree Program near Center Point Alabama

Center Point Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Center Point 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 skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? A number of potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those topics 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 cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

Center Point Alabama interior designed modern office conference room

Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas 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 may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. 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 integrating Feng shui principles, Center Point AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Designer Degree Options

Center Point Alabama interior designed eat-in kitchen

There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new career in Center Point AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote 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 several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Center Point AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased 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 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 earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Center Point Alabama interior designed family room with piano

Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Center Point AL residence. Naturally 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 as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Center Point AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Center Point AL college you choose should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a significant network of Center Point AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Center Point AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Center Point AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Center Point home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. While there 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? Finally, confirm that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Center Point AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Center Point Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Best Center Point Interior Design School

Selecting the right interior design college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to consider 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 business. But it is still essential 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 effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Center Point Alabama.