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How to Find the Best Interior Designer Degree Program near Greenville Alabama

Greenville Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Greenville AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But where do you begin? Many prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered 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 before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Greenville AL can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Greenville AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new profession 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 invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose 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 addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized 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. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

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 field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Greenville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

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After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Greenville AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial assistance 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 Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate 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 school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Greenville AL school you choose should also provide the appropriate 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 School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Greenville AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Greenville AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Greenville AL programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Greenville home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school 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 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 option as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Greenville Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Best Greenville Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior designer school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are several things to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Greenville Alabama.