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How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer College near Meadowbrook Alabama

Meadowbrook Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Meadowbrook AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate 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 examination also. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Some future students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 alternatives are available.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. 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 Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

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

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new profession in Meadowbrook AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized 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 largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Meadowbrook AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many 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 lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you select 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 learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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When you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college must be within commuting distance from your Meadowbrook AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you choose 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm 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 school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Meadowbrook AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an outstanding education, the Meadowbrook AL college you choose should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet 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 received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Meadowbrook AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Meadowbrook AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of support they offer. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive 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 may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Meadowbrook AL programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Meadowbrook home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Meadowbrook AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Meadowbrook Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Right Meadowbrook Interior Design School

Selecting the ideal interior designer program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Meadowbrook Alabama.