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How to Find the Right Interior Designer Program near Harvest Alabama

Harvest Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Harvest AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Some prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask 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 training alternatives are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Harvest AL can specialize in:

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

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including 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 wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Harvest AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new career in Harvest AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment 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 creative and technical aspects 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 job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Harvest AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying 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 attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving 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 minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

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After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Harvest AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from 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). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm 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 college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Harvest AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate 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 mandating licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Harvest AL program you choose should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with 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 earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a substantial network of Harvest AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

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

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Harvest AL schools you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Harvest home, go to the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Harvest AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Harvest Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Best Harvest Interior Design Program

Choosing the right interior design college is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain 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 attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Harvest Alabama.