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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Degree Program near Chickasaw Alabama

Chickasaw Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Chickasaw 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 essential that you obtain the proper training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you begin? Some future students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account 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 training alternatives are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary difference between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many 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 spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Chickasaw AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently 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 can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

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

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new profession in Chickasaw AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to 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 certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance 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 programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Chickasaw AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn 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 program may be the perfect option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Chickasaw AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. 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 gone through a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the college and the degree program 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 training are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Chickasaw AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Chickasaw AL college you select should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges 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 school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a sizable network of Chickasaw AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Chickasaw AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Chickasaw AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Chickasaw home, visit the school and attend a few classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design college you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Chickasaw AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Right Chickasaw Interior Design School

Choosing the right interior designer college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions 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 excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Chickasaw Alabama.