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How to Pick the Right Interior Designer School near Midfield Alabama

Midfield Alabama interior designed living room with viewNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Midfield AL, it's time to begin 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 obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Midfield AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

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

Interior Design Degrees

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

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Midfield AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are working 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 convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you select 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 earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Midfield AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish 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 available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Midfield AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep 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) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Midfield AL school you select should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Midfield AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Midfield AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Midfield AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Midfield home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Midfield AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Best Midfield Interior Design College

Picking the right interior designer college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several things to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Midfield Alabama.