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How to Choose the Right Interior Design School near Clay Alabama

Clay Alabama interior designed living room with viewNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Clay AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Clay AL may specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree options available in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new career in Clay AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals 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, be sure 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 some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits 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 training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student 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 attaining 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 enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the convenience of their Clay AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic 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 a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college must be within commuting distance from your Clay AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might 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 employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become 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 college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Clay AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a significant network of Clay AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Clay AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of support they provide. Many of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts 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 large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Clay AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Clay home, visit the school and monitor a few 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 credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Clay AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Clay Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Clay Interior Design College

Selecting the right interior designer school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many things to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Clay Alabama.