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How to Select the Right Interior Design Degree Program near Rainbow City Alabama

Rainbow City Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Rainbow City AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you receive 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 vital that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you begin? Many potential students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges 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 sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered also. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Rainbow City 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 example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Rainbow City AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new profession in Rainbow City AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced 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 sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Rainbow City AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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When you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Rainbow City AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Rainbow City AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Rainbow City AL college you enroll in should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy 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 earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Rainbow City AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Rainbow City AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Rainbow City AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Rainbow City home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer program you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Rainbow City AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Rainbow City Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Best Rainbow City Interior Design College

Choosing the right interior designer college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Rainbow City Alabama.