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How to Pick the Best Interior Designer School near Oneonta Alabama

Oneonta Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Oneonta 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 interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, 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 vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Oneonta AL may specialize in:

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

There are many 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 create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Oneonta AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new profession in Oneonta AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Oneonta AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, 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 distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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When you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Oneonta AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional 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 gone through a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Oneonta AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Oneonta AL school you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Oneonta AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Oneonta AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Oneonta AL programs you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Oneonta home, go to the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Oneonta AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Oneonta Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Right Oneonta Interior Design College

Picking the ideal interior design college is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are several points to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Oneonta Alabama.