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How to Choose the Right Interior Design College near Greenville Alabama

Greenville Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Greenville AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you start? Many future students will launch their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other important 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 class alternatives are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Greenville AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on 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 must learn, for example 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 picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Greenville AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new career in Greenville AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five 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, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Greenville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be a great option 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 some students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, 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 discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Greenville AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from 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). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program 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 education are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Greenville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some 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 college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Greenville AL program you choose should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Greenville AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Greenville AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Greenville AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Greenville home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer school you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Greenville AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Right Greenville Interior Design School

Choosing the right interior designer program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are several factors to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Greenville Alabama.