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How to Select the Best Interior Design College near Chickasaw Alabama

Chickasaw Alabama interior designed living room with viewNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Chickasaw AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? Many future 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 variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at 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 available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key difference between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Chickasaw AL may specialize in:

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

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Chickasaw AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new career in Chickasaw AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the convenience of their Chickasaw AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Chickasaw AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design school and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college 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 training are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Chickasaw AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Chickasaw AL college you choose should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned 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 so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a substantial network of Chickasaw AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Chickasaw AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial aid to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Chickasaw AL schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Chickasaw home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Chickasaw AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Right Chickasaw Interior Design College

Picking the ideal interior design program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. 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 colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Chickasaw Alabama.