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How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Course near Leeds Alabama

Leeds Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Leeds AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But where do you start? A number of future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must 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 first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Leeds AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. 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 can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

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

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new profession in Leeds AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous 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 business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such 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 mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require 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 sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Leeds AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. 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 programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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When you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college has to be within driving distance from your Leeds AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting 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 things that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few 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 assess and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Leeds AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate 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 mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Leeds AL school you choose should also provide the appropriate training 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 College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Leeds AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Leeds AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Leeds AL colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Leeds home, go to the campus and monitor a few classes. While there talk with some 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Leeds AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Best Leeds Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior design school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Leeds Alabama.