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How to Select the Best Interior Designer School near Selma Alabama

Selma Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Selma AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? Many potential students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Selma AL may specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to start your new profession in Selma AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Selma AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive 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 confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Selma AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Selma AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College 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 college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Selma AL program you enroll in should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a large network of Selma AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Selma AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. A number of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help 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. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Selma AL colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Selma home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer program you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Selma AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Right Selma Interior Design College

Choosing the ideal interior design college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are several factors to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Selma Alabama.