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How to Pick the Right Interior Design College near Selma Alabama

Selma Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer 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 interiors, it's essential that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? Many potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education 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 living spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Selma AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance 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 need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking 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 Designer Degree Programs

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There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new career in Selma AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish 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 supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the comfort of their Selma AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

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After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Selma AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Selma AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Selma AL program you select should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements 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 designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a large network of Selma AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Selma AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Selma AL schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Selma home, visit the college and attend a few classes. While there talk 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 Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Selma AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Right Selma Interior Design School

Picking the right interior design college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are a number of things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Selma Alabama.