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How to Choose the Best Interior Design Degree Program near Oxford Alabama

Oxford Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Oxford AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of 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 very important that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. But just where do you begin? Some future students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal distinction between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Oxford AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized 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 must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Oxford AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new career in Oxford AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt 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) exam required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant 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 schools. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Oxford AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices as well. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when securing 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 colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Oxford AL program you select should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask 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 sought after. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of Oxford AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Oxford AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of support they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Oxford AL programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Oxford home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy 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 you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Oxford Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Best Oxford Interior Design School

Choosing the right interior designer school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Oxford Alabama.