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How to Find the Right Interior Design Program near Greenville Alabama

Greenville Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Greenville 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 interiors, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But just where do you start? A number of future students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking 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 alternatives are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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

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

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

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training required to begin your new career in Greenville AL. Your choice 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 decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs 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 minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve 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 programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Greenville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended 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 programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Greenville AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Greenville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Greenville AL school you select should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with 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 received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Greenville AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Greenville AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of support they provide. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Greenville AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Greenville home, visit the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Greenville AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Greenville Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Best Greenville Interior Design Program

Choosing the right interior design college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Greenville Alabama.