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How to Select the Best Interior Designer Program near Tarrant Alabama

Tarrant Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Tarrant AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 compared to Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Tarrant AL can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Tarrant AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new career in Tarrant AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job 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 offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Tarrant AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. 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 programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program 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 obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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After you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Tarrant AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment 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 organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Tarrant AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate 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 mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Tarrant AL college you enroll in should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a large network of Tarrant AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Tarrant AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Tarrant AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Tarrant home, go to the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer program you enroll in 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 Tarrant AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Tarrant Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Best Tarrant Interior Design College

Selecting the right interior design program is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tarrant Alabama.