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How to Select the Best Interior Designer Degree Program near Rainsville Alabama

Rainsville Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Rainsville AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you start? Many future students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you must ask 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 choices are offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, 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 educated 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 Rainsville AL may specialize in:

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

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Rainsville AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training required to begin your new profession in Rainsville AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to pick 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. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several 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 students who to study in the comfort of their Rainsville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure 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 online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

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After you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Rainsville AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design college and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry 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 instructors. Just verify that both the college and the degree program 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 training are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Rainsville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate 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 college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Rainsville AL program you select should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Rainsville AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Rainsville AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Rainsville AL programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Rainsville home, visit the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Rainsville AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Best Rainsville Interior Design School

Picking the ideal interior design program is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are several points to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Rainsville Alabama.