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

Rainbow City Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Rainbow City AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you do the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many 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 functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Rainbow City AL can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Rainbow City AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new career in Rainbow City AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the comfort of their Rainbow City AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you choose 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 distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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When you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Rainbow City AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design program and school that you select 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Rainbow City AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Rainbow City AL school you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing 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 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, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a significant network of Rainbow City AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Rainbow City AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Rainbow City AL programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Rainbow City home, go to the campus and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Rainbow City AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Best Rainbow City Interior Design Program

Choosing the right interior designer college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Rainbow City Alabama.