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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Program near Chelsea Alabama

Chelsea Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Chelsea AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since several 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 proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary difference between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Chelsea AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Chelsea AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new career in Chelsea AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Chelsea AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed 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 schools may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive 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 college may be the ideal alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Chelsea AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of questions 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 assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Chelsea AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Chelsea AL program you choose should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a large network of Chelsea AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Chelsea AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior design programs provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Chelsea AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Chelsea home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer school you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Chelsea AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Chelsea Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Best Chelsea Interior Design Program

Choosing the right interior designer school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided 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 superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Chelsea Alabama.