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How to Pick the Right Interior Design School near Oxford Alabama

Oxford Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Oxford AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching 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 available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal difference 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. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Oxford AL may specialize in:

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

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers 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, Oxford AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to start your new profession in Oxford AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally 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 deal with the technical and creative 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 position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily 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 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, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Oxford AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy 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 schools may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Oxford AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Oxford AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Oxford AL program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Oxford AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Oxford AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Oxford AL programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Oxford home, go to the school and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk 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 designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Oxford AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Oxford Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Right Oxford Interior Design School

Choosing the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many things to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Oxford Alabama.