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How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Degree Program near Satsuma Alabama

Satsuma Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Satsuma AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Satsuma AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Satsuma AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new career in Satsuma AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions 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 required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Satsuma AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy 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 a number of 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 costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized 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 acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Once you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Satsuma 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 fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. 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 undergone an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Satsuma AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Satsuma AL school you choose should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a sizable network of Satsuma AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

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

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Satsuma AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Satsuma home, go to the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer school you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Satsuma AL, verify 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 procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Right Satsuma Interior Design School

Choosing the ideal interior design program is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Satsuma Alabama.