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

Ozark Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Ozark AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? A number of prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors 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 address those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary distinction between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Ozark AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Ozark AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new career in Ozark AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to pick 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 benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business required 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 supply advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university 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", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Ozark AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a great solution 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 a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added 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 be sure that the college you pick 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 online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Ozark AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Ozark AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some 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 school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Ozark AL program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable training 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 design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Ozark AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Ozark AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of support they provide. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Ozark AL programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Ozark home, go to the school and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few 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 Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer school you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Ozark AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Ozark Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Right Ozark Interior Design Program

Choosing the right interior design college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several points to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review 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 accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Ozark Alabama.