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How to Find the Right Interior Design Degree Program near Clanton Alabama

Clanton Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Clanton AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation 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 school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you start? Many potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 options are available.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Clanton AL may specialize in:

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

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

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training necessary to start your new profession in Clanton AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated 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 certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

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, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Clanton AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a recognized 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 learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

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When you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Clanton AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 excellent, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Clanton AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Clanton AL school you select should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements 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 no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a substantial network of Clanton AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Clanton AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Clanton AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Clanton home, visit the campus and attend a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design school you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Clanton AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Clanton Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Right Clanton Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior designer school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of points to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Clanton Alabama.