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How to Pick the Right Interior Designer School near Sylacauga Alabama

Sylacauga Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Sylacauga AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But where do you begin? Some potential students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important variables 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 address those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Sylacauga AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Sylacauga AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new profession in Sylacauga AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Sylacauga AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you choose 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 education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating 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 have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Sylacauga AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get 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 some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an outstanding education, the Sylacauga AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Sylacauga AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Sylacauga AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Sylacauga AL programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Sylacauga home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Sylacauga AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Right Sylacauga Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several things to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Sylacauga Alabama.