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How to Choose the Best Interior Design School near Clanton Alabama

Clanton Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Clanton AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. We will address those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal distinction between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Clanton AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. 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 kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Clanton AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new profession in Clanton AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 supply advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Clanton AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. 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 attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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When you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Clanton AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design college and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. 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 undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial aid 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 programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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 in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Clanton AL college you enroll in should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Clanton AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Clanton AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Clanton AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Clanton home, visit the college and monitor a couple of 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 backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, 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 go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Clanton AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Clanton Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Best Clanton Interior Design Program

Selecting the ideal interior design college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Clanton Alabama.