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How to Find the Best Interior Designer School near Hartselle Alabama

Hartselle Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design 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 spaces, it's important that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? Some prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. 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 first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Hartselle AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new career in Hartselle AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Hartselle AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs

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After you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Hartselle AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Hartselle AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So besides providing an excellent education, the Hartselle AL school you choose should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements 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 designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a sizable network of Hartselle AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Hartselle AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Hartselle AL programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Hartselle home, go to the campus 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 philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Hartselle AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Hartselle Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Hartselle Interior Design College

Selecting the right interior designer school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several points to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs 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 Hartselle Alabama.