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How to Choose the Best Interior Designer College near Theodore Alabama

Theodore Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Theodore AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? Some future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask 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 training choices are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Theodore AL can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new profession in Theodore AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several 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 study in the comfort of their Theodore AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Theodore AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Theodore AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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 as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Theodore AL program you select should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a sizable network of Theodore AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Theodore AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Theodore AL schools you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Theodore home, go to the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

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

Learn More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Best Theodore Interior Design School

Picking the right interior design program is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several points to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Theodore Alabama.