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How to Find the Right Interior Design Program near Smiths Station Alabama

Smiths Station Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Smiths Station AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you start? A number of future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will cover those topics and other important 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 training options are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between the two 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 areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Smiths Station AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room 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 public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Smiths Station AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training required to start your new profession in Smiths Station AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business required 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 two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish 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 professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the comfort of their Smiths Station AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs 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 commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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When you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Smiths Station AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Smiths Station AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep 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) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Smiths Station AL school you select should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with 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 received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a significant network of Smiths Station AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Smiths Station AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Smiths Station AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Smiths Station home, go to the college and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Smiths Station AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Right Smiths Station Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Smiths Station Alabama.