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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Degree Program near Lincoln Alabama

Lincoln Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Lincoln AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But where do you begin? Many prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 offered.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Lincoln AL may 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, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed 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 needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Lincoln AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to start your new career in Lincoln AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter 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) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade required 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 design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Lincoln AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. 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 home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Lincoln 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 fee for tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. 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 gone through a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Lincoln AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Lincoln AL program you select should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a large network of Lincoln AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Lincoln AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Lincoln AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Lincoln home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few 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 Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer program you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Lincoln AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Best Lincoln Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior design school is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of factors 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 respected in the field. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Lincoln Alabama.