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How to Choose the Right Interior Design Degree Program near Meadowbrook Alabama

Meadowbrook Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Meadowbrook AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final selection. But exactly where do you begin? Many future students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Meadowbrook AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal 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 looks as the primary consideration.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Meadowbrook AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new profession in Meadowbrook AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Meadowbrook AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer 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 cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

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After you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Meadowbrook AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Meadowbrook AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers become 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 several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Meadowbrook AL program you choose should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Meadowbrook AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Meadowbrook AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors 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 larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Meadowbrook AL colleges you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Meadowbrook home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Meadowbrook AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Meadowbrook Interior Design Courses

Enroll in the Right Meadowbrook Interior Design School

Choosing the right interior designer school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Meadowbrook Alabama.