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How to Select the Right Interior Designer Course near Millbrook Alabama

Millbrook Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Millbrook 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 get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But where do you begin? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications 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 first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates 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 many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Millbrook AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

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

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new profession in Millbrook AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Millbrook AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to 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 schools may be the only alternative 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 costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. 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 right alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs

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After you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school must be within driving distance from your Millbrook AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Millbrook AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College 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 in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Millbrook AL college you choose should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools 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 indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of Millbrook AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Millbrook AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Millbrook AL programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Millbrook home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. While there speak 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 Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Millbrook AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Best Millbrook Interior Design College

Picking the right interior designer program is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Millbrook Alabama.