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How to Choose the Best Interior Designer School near Selma Alabama

Selma Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have decided 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 commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account 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 options are available.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing 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 educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Selma AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, 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 normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

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

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to start your new profession in Selma AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Selma AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Selma AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to 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 looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Selma AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Selma AL school you choose should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Selma AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Selma AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Selma AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Selma home, visit the college and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design school you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially 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 certain 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, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Selma Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Right Selma Interior Design College

Choosing the ideal interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are several things to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Selma Alabama.