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How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Program near Millbrook Alabama

Millbrook Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Millbrook AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you begin? Some prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you must ask 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 training options are offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main distinction between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Millbrook AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Millbrook AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new career in Millbrook AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations 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 field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential 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 offer choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly 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 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Millbrook AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending 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 colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, 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 discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Millbrook AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national 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 undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Millbrook AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Millbrook AL college you choose should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Millbrook AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Millbrook AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Millbrook AL programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Millbrook home, visit the college 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 experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer college you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Millbrook AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Right Millbrook Interior Design College

Choosing the right interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Millbrook Alabama.