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

Rainsville Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Rainsville AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate 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 proper research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? Many prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 alternatives are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates 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 work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Rainsville AL may specialize in:

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

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Rainsville AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new profession in Rainsville AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated 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. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Rainsville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design programs 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 decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn 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 option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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After you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Rainsville AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from 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 receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm 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 education are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Rainsville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Rainsville AL school you select should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a large network of Rainsville AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Rainsville AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is essential 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 Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Rainsville AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Rainsville home, go to the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Rainsville AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Best Rainsville Interior Design College

Choosing the ideal interior design program is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Rainsville Alabama.