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How to Select the Right Interior Design Degree Program near Clay Alabama

Clay Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Clay AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? Many potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will address those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at 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 available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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

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

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need 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 concepts, Clay AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training needed to start your new career in Clay AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. 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 want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Clay AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you select is accredited by a highly regarded 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 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 ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Clay AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of questions 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 select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional 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 a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify 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 education are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Clay AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become 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 several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Clay AL college you enroll in should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a substantial network of Clay AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Clay AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of support they offer. A number of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Clay AL programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Clay home, go to the campus and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend 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, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Clay Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Best Clay Interior Design Program

Picking the ideal interior design program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many points to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Clay Alabama.