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How to Find the Best Interior Design Degree Program near Talladega Alabama

Talladega Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Talladega AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you do the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? Many prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business 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 many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Talladega AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. 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, Talladega AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new profession in Talladega AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Talladega AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. 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 only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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After you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Talladega AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Talladega AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as 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 as well. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Talladega AL program you choose should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy 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 no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering 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 school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Talladega AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Talladega AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school 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 one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Talladega AL colleges you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Talladega home, visit the college and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Talladega AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Talladega Interior Design Program

Selecting the ideal interior designer school is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Talladega Alabama.