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How to Choose the Best Interior Design Program near Meadowbrook Alabama

Meadowbrook Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Meadowbrook AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some 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 carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you begin? Many prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking 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 alternatives are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary difference between them is the level 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. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general 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, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly 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 focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

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

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new career in Meadowbrook AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination 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. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually 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 deal with the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job 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 alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Meadowbrook AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Meadowbrook AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national 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 gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Meadowbrook AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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 school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Meadowbrook AL school you select should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with 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 earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a significant network of Meadowbrook AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Meadowbrook AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of support they offer. A number of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Meadowbrook AL programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Meadowbrook home, go to the school and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Meadowbrook AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Meadowbrook Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Right Meadowbrook Interior Design College

Choosing the right interior design program is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many points to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Meadowbrook Alabama.