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How to Find the Right Interior Designer Program near Selma Alabama

Selma Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Selma AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But just where do you start? Some potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in 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 available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing 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 educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Selma AL may specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Selma AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new profession in Selma AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief 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 about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty 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. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Selma AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the only option if no interior design programs 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 minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you choose is accredited by a highly regarded 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 learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college must be within commuting distance from your Selma AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Selma AL employers will only hire 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 as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Selma AL program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Selma AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Selma AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of support they provide. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Selma AL schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Selma home, go to the college and sit in on a few 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 backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Selma AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Selma Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Right Selma Interior Design School

Selecting the ideal interior designer school is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many factors to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Selma Alabama.