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How to Choose the Best Interior Designer Program near Clay Alabama

Clay Alabama interior designed living room with viewNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Clay AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? Many prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 choices are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Clay AL can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new profession in Clay AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time 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) examination required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for 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 lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving 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 improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional 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 take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Clay AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, 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 online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Clay AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options as well. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design program and college that you enroll in 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Clay AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Clay AL college you enroll in should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam 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 obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a significant network of Clay AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Clay AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Clay AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Clay home, visit the college and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design college you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Clay AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm 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 Online Interior Design Courses

Enroll in the Best Clay Interior Design College

Picking the ideal interior design school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of points to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Clay Alabama.