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How to Choose the Right Interior Design Course near Montevallo Alabama

Montevallo Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Montevallo 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 imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main distinction between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Montevallo AL can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Montevallo AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new career in Montevallo AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring 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 improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use 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 field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the convenience of their Montevallo AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be a good solution 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 home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional 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 also. Just make sure that the college 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 setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Montevallo AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through 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 training are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Montevallo AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get 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 school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Montevallo AL program you select should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a sizable network of Montevallo AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Montevallo AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of support they provide. Many of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Montevallo AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Montevallo home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Montevallo AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Best Montevallo Interior Design School

Selecting the right interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many factors to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Montevallo Alabama.