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How to Pick the Best Interior Design Degree Program near Guntersville Alabama

Guntersville Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Guntersville AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? Some potential students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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

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

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Guntersville AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training required to start your new profession in Guntersville AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such 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 largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use 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 called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Guntersville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending 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 programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs 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 highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Guntersville AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded 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 teachers and programs. Just verify 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Guntersville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Guntersville AL school you select should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam 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? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Guntersville AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Guntersville AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Guntersville AL colleges you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Guntersville home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer college you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Guntersville AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Guntersville Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Right Guntersville Interior Design College

Choosing the right interior design program is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Guntersville Alabama.