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How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design Degree Program near Meadowbrook Alabama

Meadowbrook Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Meadowbrook 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 spaces, it's important that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But where do you begin? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking 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 choices are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working 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 work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Meadowbrook AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

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

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new career in Meadowbrook AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance 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 college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Meadowbrook AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed 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 many students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized 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 learning. 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 ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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After you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school must be within driving distance from your Meadowbrook AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program 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 outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Meadowbrook AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become 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 college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Meadowbrook AL school you enroll in should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy 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 no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Meadowbrook AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Meadowbrook AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Meadowbrook AL colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Meadowbrook home, go to the campus and monitor a few classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Meadowbrook AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Meadowbrook Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Right Meadowbrook Interior Design School

Picking the right interior design school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check 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 balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Meadowbrook Alabama.