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How to Find the Best Interior Designer College near Russellville Alabama

Russellville Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Russellville AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? A number of potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Russellville AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. 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 particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

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 produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Russellville AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new career in Russellville AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt 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 addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business required 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 design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Russellville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying 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 home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole 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. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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When you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Russellville AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Russellville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Russellville AL college you select should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Russellville AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

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

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Russellville AL programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Russellville home, visit the college and attend 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 credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Russellville AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Russellville Interior Design Program

Choosing the right interior designer college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in 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 imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Russellville Alabama.