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

Smiths Station Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Smiths Station AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you do the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? A number of potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 choices are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess 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 Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Smiths Station AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. 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 dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Smiths Station AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to start your new career in Smiths Station AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Smiths Station AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Smiths Station AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. 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 outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Smiths Station AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers become 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 college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Smiths Station AL school you select should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a sizable network of Smiths Station AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Smiths Station AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of aid they provide. A number of interior design programs offer financial aid to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Smiths Station AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Smiths Station home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. While there 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design college you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Smiths Station AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Smiths Station Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Right Smiths Station Interior Design College

Picking the ideal interior designer college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Smiths Station Alabama.