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How to Find the Best Interior Design Degree Program near Midfield Alabama

Midfield Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Midfield AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? A number of future students will start their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, 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 educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Midfield AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal 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 might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Midfield AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training required to start your new career in Midfield AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance 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 college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Midfield AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you select is accredited by a recognized 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 online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Midfield AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you select 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Midfield AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become 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 school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Midfield AL school you choose should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a significant network of Midfield AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Midfield AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Midfield AL colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Midfield home, go to the school and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Midfield AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Midfield Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Midfield Interior Design School

Picking the right interior design program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. 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 schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Midfield Alabama.