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How to Select the Right Interior Design Program near Theodore Alabama

Theodore Alabama interior designed living room with viewNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Theodore 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 receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? Many prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 Decoration and Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many 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 collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Theodore AL can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Theodore AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new profession in Theodore AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for 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 short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative 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 supply advanced design training after acquiring a 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 enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of 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 an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Theodore AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving 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 also. Just make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs 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 school may be the ideal alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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When you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Theodore 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 cost of tuition will limit your options also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. 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 gone through a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Theodore AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare 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 program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Theodore AL program you select should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance 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 regarded within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Theodore AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Theodore AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of support they provide. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Theodore AL schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Theodore home, go to the college and monitor a few 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 credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Theodore AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Right Theodore Interior Design Program

Picking the right interior design school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Theodore Alabama.