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How to Choose the Best Interior Design Degree Program near Chickasaw Alabama

Chickasaw Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Chickasaw AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you start? Many prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 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 them is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories 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 basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Chickasaw AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are four degree options available in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new career in Chickasaw AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. 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 want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and use 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 field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Chickasaw AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. 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 option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Chickasaw AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design program and school 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when securing 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 schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Chickasaw AL college you choose should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a large network of Chickasaw AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Chickasaw AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of aid they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Chickasaw AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Chickasaw home, go to the college and sit in on a few classes. While there 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Chickasaw 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 work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Right Chickasaw Interior Design School

Choosing the right interior design college is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many factors to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Chickasaw Alabama.