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How to Choose the Best Interior Design Course near Southside Alabama

Southside Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Southside AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Some prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary difference between the two is the amount of training 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 and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Southside AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically 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 public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal 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 primary consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Southside AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new career in Southside AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick 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 amount of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining the 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 advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly 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.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Southside AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, 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 online or distance 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.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Southside AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm 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 may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Southside AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Southside AL program you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Southside AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Southside AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Southside AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Southside home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Southside AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Southside Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Right Southside Interior Design School

Choosing the right interior designer college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are a number of things to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. 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 review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Southside Alabama.