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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Program near Sylacauga Alabama

Sylacauga Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Sylacauga AL, it's time to start 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 get the proper 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 exam also. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final choice. But just where do you begin? Some prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, 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 decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Sylacauga AL can specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Sylacauga AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new career in Sylacauga AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are normally 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 colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Sylacauga AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent option 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 schools may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a recognized 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 program may be the ideal alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Sylacauga AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Sylacauga AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

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

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools 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 sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a substantial network of Sylacauga AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Sylacauga AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Sylacauga AL programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Sylacauga home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Sylacauga AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Sylacauga Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Best Sylacauga Interior Design School

Choosing the right interior design program is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many points to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But 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 schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Sylacauga Alabama.