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How to Select the Right Interior Designer College near Oxford Alabama

Oxford Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Oxford AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate 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 essential that you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will cover those topics and other crucial 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 offered.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Oxford AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently 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 can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Oxford AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new career in Oxford AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives 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. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Oxford AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Oxford AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below 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 to help you assess and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Oxford AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers get 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 program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Oxford AL program you enroll in should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Oxford AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Oxford AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior design programs provide financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Oxford AL schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Oxford home, go to the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Oxford AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Right Oxford Interior Design School

Picking the right interior designer college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many things to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Oxford Alabama.