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How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design Degree Program near Opp Alabama

Opp Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Opp AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities 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 exam as well. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Many future students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. We will cover those topics and other important 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 alternatives are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Opp AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially 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 dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Opp AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new profession in Opp AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to 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) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive 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 graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many 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 college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Opp AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Opp AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer college and program that you select has earned accreditation from 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Opp AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of 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 some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Opp AL program you select should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a significant network of Opp AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Opp AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Opp AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Opp home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Opp AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Opp Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Best Opp Interior Design Program

Picking the ideal interior designer program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Opp Alabama.