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How to Choose the Best Interior Designer College near Rainbow City Alabama

Rainbow City Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Rainbow City AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? Many future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 Design vs Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent 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 as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Rainbow City AL can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Rainbow City AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to start your new profession in Rainbow City AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish 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 professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

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

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Rainbow City AL home. Obviously 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 options as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you choose 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous 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 organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible 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 previously mentioned, some States do require 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 some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Rainbow City AL college you select should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Rainbow City AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Rainbow City AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Rainbow City AL schools you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Rainbow City home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your busy 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 Rainbow City AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Best Rainbow City Interior Design College

Picking the right interior designer school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many things to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. 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 final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Rainbow City Alabama.