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How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design Course near Meadowbrook Alabama

Meadowbrook Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Meadowbrook AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Some future students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Meadowbrook AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often 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, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Meadowbrook AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training required to start your new career in Meadowbrook AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the convenience of their Meadowbrook AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses 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 colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

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When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your Meadowbrook AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. 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 make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Meadowbrook AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Meadowbrook AL college you choose should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Meadowbrook AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Meadowbrook AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of support they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small 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 reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Meadowbrook home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Meadowbrook AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Meadowbrook Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Right Meadowbrook Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior design program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Meadowbrook Alabama.