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How to Select the Right Interior Design College near Oneonta Alabama

Oneonta Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Oneonta AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate 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 essential that you carry out the proper research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? Some prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Oneonta AL may specialize in:

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

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Oneonta AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training required to begin your new career in Oneonta AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical 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 two year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

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

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Oneonta AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

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When you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Oneonta AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Oneonta AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

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

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a significant network of Oneonta AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Oneonta AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Oneonta AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Oneonta home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Oneonta AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Right Oneonta Interior Design Program

Picking the ideal interior design college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many points to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance 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 drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Oneonta Alabama.