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How to Select the Best Interior Designer Program near Meridianville Alabama

Meridianville Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Meridianville AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But where do you begin? Many potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous 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 areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Meridianville AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality 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 concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Meridianville AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new profession in Meridianville AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of 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 supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Meridianville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving 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 reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

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After you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Meridianville AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you select 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just verify 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Meridianville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Meridianville AL school you select should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements 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 design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a large network of Meridianville AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Meridianville AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Meridianville AL colleges you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Meridianville home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Meridianville AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Meridianville Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Best Meridianville Interior Design Program

Picking the ideal interior design school is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Meridianville Alabama.