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How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer Program near Roanoke Alabama

Roanoke Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Roanoke AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative 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 examination also. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? A number of future students will start their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key distinction between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Roanoke AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily 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 looks as the main consideration.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Roanoke AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training necessary to start your new profession in Roanoke AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate 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 acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Roanoke AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive 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 confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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After you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college has to be within driving distance from your Roanoke AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design program and school that you select 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment 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 confirm 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 available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Roanoke AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Roanoke AL school you choose should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Roanoke AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Roanoke AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Roanoke AL colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Roanoke home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Roanoke AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Roanoke Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Best Roanoke Interior Design School

Choosing the right interior designer program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many things to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Roanoke Alabama.