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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Degree Program near Smiths Station Alabama

Smiths Station Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Smiths Station AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? A number of future students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 alternatives are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary 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 areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Smiths Station AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Smiths Station AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new profession in Smiths Station AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver 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 minimum 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 design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

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

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the comfort of their Smiths Station AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain 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 colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

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After you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Smiths Station AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and school that you choose has been accredited by 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Smiths Station AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Smiths Station AL program you select should also provide the suitable instruction 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? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Smiths Station AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Smiths Station AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Smiths Station AL colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Smiths Station home, visit the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Smiths Station AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Smiths Station Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Right Smiths Station Interior Design Program

Picking the right interior design school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are several things to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided 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 excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Smiths Station Alabama.