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How to Select the Right Interior Designer Degree Program near Oxford Alabama

Oxford Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Oxford AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you obtain the appropriate 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 may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? A number of future students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Oxford AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may 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, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Oxford AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training required to start your new career in Oxford AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential 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 design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly 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 degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Oxford AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain 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 acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Oxford 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 qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Oxford AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Oxford AL college you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a significant network of Oxford AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Oxford AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college 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 larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Oxford AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Oxford home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of 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 credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Oxford AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Right Oxford Interior Design School

Choosing the right interior designer school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several points to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools 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 Oxford Alabama.