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How to Pick the Right Interior Design School near Hartselle Alabama

Hartselle Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Hartselle AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get the right training to put your talents 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 examination as well. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But where do you start? Some future students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories 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 room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often 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 focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Hartselle AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Hartselle AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn 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 confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Hartselle AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design school and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected 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 programs and instructors. 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Hartselle AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate 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 college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Hartselle AL college you select should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Hartselle AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Hartselle AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big 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 attention from the teachers. Ask the Hartselle AL schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Hartselle home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important 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 enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Hartselle Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Best Hartselle Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior design program is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify 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 balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Hartselle Alabama.