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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Program near Opp Alabama

Opp Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Opp AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will discuss 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 choices 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 distinction between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Opp AL can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Opp AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new career in Opp AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the convenience of their Opp AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying 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 many students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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When you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Opp AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer college and program that you select has earned accreditation from 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Opp AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require 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 program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Opp AL program you choose should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Opp AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Opp AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts 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 larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Opp AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Opp home, visit the college and attend a few classes. While there 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Opp AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Opp Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Right Opp Interior Design College

Choosing the right interior design college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Opp Alabama.