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How to Select the Best Interior Design School near Smiths Station Alabama

Smiths Station Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design 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 interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right 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 exam as well. So it's essential that you perform the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final selection. But just where do you begin? Some prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Smiths Station AL may specialize in:

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

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need 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 concepts, Smiths Station AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new profession in Smiths Station AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following 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 roughly two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Smiths Station AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college must be within commuting distance from your Smiths Station AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive 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 agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Smiths Station AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate 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 college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Smiths Station AL program you choose should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with 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 obtained your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a significant network of Smiths Station AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Smiths Station AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of support they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? 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 schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Smiths Station home, visit the college and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design college you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will 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, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Best Smiths Station Interior Design School

Picking the right interior designer college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many things to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Smiths Station Alabama.