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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Program near Saraland Alabama

Saraland Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school 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 receive the proper training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Some future students will launch their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary difference between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas 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 essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Saraland AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new career in Saraland AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business needed 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 specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Saraland AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive 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 structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your Saraland AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, 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 colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Saraland AL school you choose should also furnish 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 School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask 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 trade and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a large network of Saraland AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Saraland AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Saraland AL schools you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Saraland home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Saraland AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Saraland Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Right Saraland Interior Design School

Choosing the right interior designer school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Saraland Alabama.