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How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Course near Saraland Alabama

Saraland Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Saraland AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you start? A number of potential students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will address those issues and other important 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 options are offered.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Saraland AL can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. 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 integrating Feng shui principles, Saraland AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new career in Saraland AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt 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 professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Saraland AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, 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 discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Saraland AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest 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 questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from 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 gone through an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Saraland AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate 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 school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Saraland AL college you select should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a significant network of Saraland AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Saraland AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper 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 little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Saraland AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Saraland home, visit the college and attend a couple of 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 credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Saraland AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Saraland Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Best Saraland Interior Design School

Choosing the right interior designer school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many things to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school 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 recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Saraland Alabama.