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How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer Program near Oxford Alabama

Oxford Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school 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 imperative that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final selection. But where do you begin? A number of prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered also. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 offered.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration 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 skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many 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 Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality 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 hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

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

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new profession in Oxford AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter 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 covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive 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 degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices 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 their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate 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 schools. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college must be within commuting distance from your Oxford AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design college and program 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized 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 obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Oxford AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require 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 program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Oxford AL school you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Oxford AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Oxford AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Oxford AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Oxford home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Oxford AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Oxford Interior Design School

Choosing the right interior design college is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many things to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Oxford Alabama.