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How to Pick the Best Interior Design Course near Leeds Alabama

Leeds Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Leeds AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But just where do you start? Some prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Leeds AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often 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 can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Leeds AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new profession in Leeds AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

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

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Leeds AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, 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 education. 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.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Leeds AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design college and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college 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 available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Leeds AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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 school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Leeds AL school you select should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools 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 a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a significant network of Leeds AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Leeds AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they offer. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Leeds AL schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Leeds home, visit the school and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design school you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Leeds AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Best Leeds Interior Design School

Picking the right interior designer program is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Leeds Alabama.