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How to Find the Right Interior Designer College near Sylacauga Alabama

Sylacauga Alabama interior designed living room with viewNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Sylacauga AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are considering before you make your final selection. But just where do you start? Some future students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered as well. We will address those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 options are offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Sylacauga AL can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design 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 Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new career in Sylacauga AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve 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 degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require 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 those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Sylacauga AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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When you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your Sylacauga AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design school and program that you select has earned accreditation from 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 gone through a demanding evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Sylacauga AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require 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 several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Sylacauga AL school you select should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill 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 earned your interior design certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Sylacauga AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Sylacauga AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Sylacauga AL colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Sylacauga home, visit the campus and monitor a few classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend 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, check that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Best Sylacauga Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior designer college is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Sylacauga Alabama.