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How to Find the Right Interior Design Course near Russellville Alabama

Russellville Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Russellville AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? A number of potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main difference between them is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting 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 taught to make work or living areas 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 Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Russellville AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to start your new profession in Russellville AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional 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 professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Russellville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you pick 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 structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Russellville AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when requesting 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 colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require 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 school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Russellville AL college you choose 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 employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, 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 trade and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Russellville AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Russellville AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior design programs offer financial aid to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Russellville AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Russellville home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design school you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Russellville AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Right Russellville Interior Design Program

Selecting the right interior design program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several things to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Russellville Alabama.