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How to Choose the Best Interior Design College near Glencoe Alabama

Glencoe Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Glencoe AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Some future students will start 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 only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Glencoe AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new career in Glencoe AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam 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 available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets 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 position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer 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. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional 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 professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Glencoe AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. 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 only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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After you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Glencoe AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design program and college that you choose 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized 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 securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Glencoe AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get 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 exceptional education, the Glencoe AL college you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Glencoe AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Glencoe AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Glencoe AL programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Glencoe home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Glencoe AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Glencoe Interior Design School

Selecting the ideal interior design school is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Glencoe Alabama.