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How to Select the Right Interior Designer School near Smiths Station Alabama

Smiths Station Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Smiths Station AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? Many future students will launch their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will cover those issues and other crucial 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 and Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person 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 necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. 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 basically any area of a house, 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 normally focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

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

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new career in Smiths Station AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure 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 choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally 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 field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Smiths Station AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools

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When you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Smiths Station AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. 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 gone through a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Smiths Station AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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 as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Smiths Station AL program you enroll in should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Smiths Station AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Smiths Station AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of support they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Smiths Station AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Smiths Station home, go to the school and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Smiths Station AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Courses

Enroll in the Best Smiths Station Interior Design Program

Picking the ideal interior designer program is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many things to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Smiths Station Alabama.