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How to Select the Right Interior Designer Program near Lincoln Alabama

Lincoln Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision 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 residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But just where do you start? Many potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other crucial 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 training options are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education 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 residential areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions 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 Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Lincoln AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training required to start your new profession in Lincoln AL. Your decision 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 decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets 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 job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things 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. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Lincoln AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn 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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When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Lincoln AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Lincoln AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate 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 school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an excellent education, the Lincoln AL program you choose should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask 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 could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Lincoln AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Lincoln AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Lincoln AL schools you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Lincoln home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night 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, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Best Lincoln Interior Design Program

Choosing the right interior design program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Lincoln Alabama.