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How to Select the Right Interior Designer College near Chelsea Alabama

Chelsea Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Chelsea AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you start? Some prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other important 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 Design vs Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Chelsea AL may specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to 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 concepts, Chelsea AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new career in Chelsea AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Chelsea AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be an excellent option 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 convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain 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 schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Chelsea AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. 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 requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Chelsea AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become 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 program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Chelsea AL school you select should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a substantial network of Chelsea AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Chelsea AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Chelsea AL programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Chelsea home, visit the school and attend a few classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Chelsea AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Best Chelsea Interior Design School

Selecting the right interior design program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before choosing 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 provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Chelsea Alabama.