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How to Find the Best Interior Design Degree Program near Hartselle Alabama

Hartselle Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Hartselle AL, it's time to begin the process of picking 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 some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you perform the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? A number of potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 choices are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Hartselle AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas 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, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. 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 including Feng shui principles, Hartselle AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to launch your new profession in Hartselle AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade required 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 two year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Hartselle AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Once you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Hartselle AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Hartselle AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get 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 college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Hartselle AL college you choose should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a large network of Hartselle AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Hartselle AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Hartselle AL colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Hartselle home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. While there speak with some 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design college you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Hartselle AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Hartselle Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Best Hartselle Interior Design Program

Choosing the right interior design school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are several things to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Hartselle Alabama.