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How to Select the Right Interior Design College near Demopolis Alabama

Demopolis Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Demopolis AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you do the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will address those topics and other crucial 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 choices are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Demopolis AL may specialize in:

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

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

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new career in Demopolis AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five 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 several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the comfort of their Demopolis AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are working 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 a number of students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.

Questions 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 task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Demopolis AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design program and school that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Demopolis AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate 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 program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Demopolis AL school you select should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Demopolis AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Demopolis AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Demopolis AL schools you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Demopolis home, visit the school and monitor a few classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Demopolis AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Right Demopolis Interior Design Program

Selecting the right interior designer school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are several things to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Demopolis Alabama.