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How to Find the Right Interior Design Program near Ozark Alabama

Ozark Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Ozark AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? Some prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, 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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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working 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 residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Ozark AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of 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 several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as 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 choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Ozark AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new profession in Ozark AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide 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 several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Ozark AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, 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 education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Ozark AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design 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 recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Ozark AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Ozark AL college you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a significant network of Ozark AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Ozark AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Ozark AL colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Ozark home, visit the college 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 approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Ozark AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Ozark Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Right Ozark Interior Design College

Choosing the ideal interior designer college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several factors to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Ozark Alabama.