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

Center Point Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Center Point AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities 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 examination as well. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you begin? Many prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration 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 class options are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Center Point AL may specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training necessary to start your new profession in Center Point AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive 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 college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such 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. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Center Point AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn 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 confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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After you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Center Point AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Center Point AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Center Point AL program you select should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a sizable network of Center Point AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Center Point AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of support they provide. A number of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Center Point AL colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Center Point home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Center Point AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Right Center Point Interior Design School

Choosing the right interior design school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many things to consider before choosing a course, program 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 suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Center Point Alabama.