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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Course near Clay Alabama

Clay Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Clay AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? Many future students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at 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 choices are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, 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 as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Clay 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 can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often focus predominantly 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 focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

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 principles, Clay AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new profession in Clay AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components 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 achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for 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 classes. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper 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 pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Clay AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial assistance 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 necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Clay AL program you select should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet 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 design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a large network of Clay AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Clay AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive 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 may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Clay AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Clay home, visit the college and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Clay AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Right Clay Interior Design School

Picking the right interior design school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Clay Alabama.