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How to Find the Right Interior Designer College near Lincoln Alabama

Lincoln Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Lincoln AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Many potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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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 have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, working 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 trained to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Lincoln AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public 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 areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Lincoln AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new career in Lincoln AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of 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 furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized 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. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

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

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Lincoln AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program 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 earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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After you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Lincoln AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design college and program that you select has been accredited by 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 education are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Lincoln AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Lincoln AL program you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges 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 sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Lincoln AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Lincoln AL schools you are evaluating and find out what type of support they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Lincoln AL programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Lincoln home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there speak 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Lincoln AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Right Lincoln Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior design college is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. 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 colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Lincoln Alabama.