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How to Select the Best Interior Designer College near Lanett Alabama

Lanett Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Lanett 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 spaces, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you do the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Many potential students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will cover those issues and other important 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 alternatives are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Lanett AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Lanett AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to start your new career in Lanett AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position 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 choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically 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 a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the comfort of their Lanett AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you pick is accredited by a highly regarded 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 dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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When you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Lanett AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded 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 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Lanett AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become 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 program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Lanett AL program you choose should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Lanett AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Lanett AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of support they offer. A number of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Lanett AL colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Lanett home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer school you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic 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 Lanett AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Lanett Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Right Lanett Interior Design School

Picking the right interior design program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Lanett Alabama.