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How to Select the Right Interior Design College near Russellville Alabama

Russellville Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Russellville AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are considering before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? Some potential students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between them 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 areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Russellville AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, 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 emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

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

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training required to launch your new career in Russellville AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • 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 normally 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 schools become licensed. In some instances, two 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 attend classes in the convenience of their Russellville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance 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.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Russellville AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance 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 Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Russellville AL program you select should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance 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 higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a substantial network of Russellville AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Russellville AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college 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? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Russellville AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Russellville home, go to the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Russellville AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Right Russellville Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several things to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest 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 ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Russellville Alabama.