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How to Select the Right Interior Designer Program near Saraland Alabama

Saraland Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Saraland AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Some prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Saraland AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. 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 particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Saraland AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to start your new profession in Saraland AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree 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 attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance 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 university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Saraland AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased 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 acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Saraland AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Saraland AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate 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 school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Saraland AL college you select should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with 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 attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a large network of Saraland AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Saraland AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of support they offer. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Saraland AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Saraland home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk 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? Finally, verify that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Saraland AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Saraland Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Right Saraland Interior Design Program

Selecting the right interior designer school is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several points to think about 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 profession. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions 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 desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Saraland Alabama.