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How to Select the Best Interior Design Degree Program near Satsuma Alabama

Satsuma Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Satsuma AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But just where do you start? A number of future students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other vital 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 training options are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess 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 Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Satsuma AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often 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, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Satsuma 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 alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new career in Satsuma AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining a 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 degrees 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 generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Satsuma AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a great 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 laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make 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 programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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After you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Satsuma AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation 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 organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Satsuma AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require 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 school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Satsuma AL school you enroll in should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet 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 received your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Satsuma AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Satsuma AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Satsuma AL programs you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Satsuma home, visit the school and attend a few classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Satsuma AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Satsuma Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Best Satsuma Interior Design School

Choosing the ideal interior design college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several things to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Satsuma Alabama.