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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Degree Program near Glencoe Alabama

Glencoe Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Glencoe AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate 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 cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Glencoe AL may specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Glencoe AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training required to begin your new career in Glencoe AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven 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 choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required 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 accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job 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 alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Glencoe AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain 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 programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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When you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Glencoe AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Glencoe AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an outstanding education, the Glencoe AL school you select should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high 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 signify that the school has a sizable network of Glencoe AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Glencoe AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller 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 Glencoe AL colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Glencoe 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 backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Glencoe AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Right Glencoe Interior Design School

Picking the right interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several points to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations 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 desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Glencoe Alabama.