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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Degree Program near Monroeville Alabama

Monroeville Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Monroeville AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate 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 essential that you carry out the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly 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 costs. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education 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 residential areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Monroeville AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly 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 focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Monroeville AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training required to begin your new career in Monroeville AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money 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 needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives 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 the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are normally 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 schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Monroeville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending 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 option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Monroeville AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning 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 agency. 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 offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Monroeville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several 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 several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Monroeville AL program you enroll in should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance 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 an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Monroeville AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Monroeville AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Monroeville AL colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Monroeville home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask 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? Last, verify that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Monroeville AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Right Monroeville Interior Design Program

Choosing the right interior designer school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are several things 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 regarded in the profession. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Monroeville Alabama.