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How to Choose the Right Interior Design Degree Program near Hartselle Alabama

Hartselle Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Hartselle AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Hartselle AL can specialize in:

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

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Hartselle AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to start your new career in Hartselle AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Hartselle AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are working 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 some students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure 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 programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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After you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Hartselle AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following 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 compare and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Hartselle 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 require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Hartselle AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a significant network of Hartselle AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Hartselle AL schools you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they offer. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Hartselle AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Hartselle home, go to the school and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design program you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Hartselle AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Hartselle Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Best Hartselle Interior Design College

Picking the ideal interior design school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college 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 chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Hartselle Alabama.