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How to Pick the Right Interior Designer College near Selma Alabama

Selma Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Selma AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But where do you start? Some future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking 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 compared to Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Selma AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Selma AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new profession in Selma AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide 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) examination mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed 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 two year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Selma AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional 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 make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire 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 setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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When you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school must be within driving distance from your Selma AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design program and college that you choose 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 gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, 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 Selma AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers become 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 some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Selma AL school you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam 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 obtained your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Selma AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Selma AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Selma AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Selma 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 philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer program you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Selma AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Selma Interior Design Courses

Enroll in the Best Selma Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Selma Alabama.