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How to Choose the Best Interior Design Degree Program near Harvest Alabama

Harvest Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Harvest AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are considering before you make your final decision. But where do you start? Many prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration 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 class choices are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can work 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 many 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 attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Harvest AL may specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Harvest AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new career in Harvest AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Harvest AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy 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 many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Harvest AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, 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 Harvest AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Harvest AL school you choose should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy 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 designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of Harvest AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Harvest AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Harvest AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Harvest home, visit the school and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you enroll in provides 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 at night or on weekends near Harvest AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Right Harvest Interior Design School

Picking the ideal interior designer school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several things to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Harvest Alabama.