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How to Pick the Best Interior Design Program near Glencoe Alabama

Glencoe Alabama interior designed living room with viewNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Glencoe AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are considering before you make your final selection. But exactly where do you begin? Many potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Glencoe AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality 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 hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Glencoe AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new career in Glencoe AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally 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 colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for 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 solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected 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 learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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When you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Glencoe AL home. 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 limit your options as well. But choosing the cheapest 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 should consider 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 looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional 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 demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may 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 hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as 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. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Glencoe AL program you choose should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance 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 high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a significant network of Glencoe AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Glencoe AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Glencoe AL programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Glencoe home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design college you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Glencoe AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Glencoe Interior Design College

Choosing the ideal interior design college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several things to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Glencoe Alabama.