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How to Select the Right Interior Design College near Ozark Alabama

Ozark Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design 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 imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But where do you start? Many prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Ozark AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Ozark AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training required to begin your new career in Ozark AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who wish 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.

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

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Ozark AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded 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 distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Ozark AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in 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). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program 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 training are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Ozark AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require 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 program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Ozark AL college you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Ozark AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Ozark AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Ozark AL schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Ozark home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Ozark AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Best Ozark Interior Design Program

Selecting the ideal interior designer program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of points 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 esteemed in the field. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Ozark Alabama.