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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer School near Millbrook Alabama

Millbrook Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Millbrook 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 interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But just where do you start? Some potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 options are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Millbrook AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently 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, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate 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 stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Millbrook AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training required to start your new profession in Millbrook AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets 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 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary 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 mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Millbrook AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools 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 setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

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When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Millbrook AL home. Naturally 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 decrease your options also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer 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 undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Millbrook AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Millbrook AL program you select should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Millbrook AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Millbrook AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Millbrook AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Millbrook home, visit the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your active 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 Millbrook AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Best Millbrook Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior designer program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Millbrook Alabama.