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How to Find the Right Interior Design Degree Program near Roanoke Alabama

Roanoke Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Roanoke AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become 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 appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? A number of future students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 choices are available.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Roanoke AL may specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Roanoke AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new profession in Roanoke AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some 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 training needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered 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 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position 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 alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Roanoke AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized 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 learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Roanoke AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in 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 evaluation of their instructors 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 training are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Roanoke AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from providing an excellent education, the Roanoke AL school you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a significant network of Roanoke AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Roanoke AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Roanoke AL schools you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Roanoke home, go to the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Roanoke AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Roanoke Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Right Roanoke Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior designer program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Roanoke Alabama.