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How to Select the Best Interior Design Program near Theodore Alabama

Theodore Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Theodore AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But just where do you start? A number of future students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main difference between the two is the level of training required. Any person 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 requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Theodore AL can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to 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 concepts, Theodore AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered 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 no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who want 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 professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Theodore AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs 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 traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive 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 structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Theodore AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm 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 industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Theodore AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several 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 college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Theodore AL program you select should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. 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 higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Theodore AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Theodore AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Theodore AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Theodore home, go to the college and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy 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 Theodore AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Theodore Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Best Theodore Interior Design School

Choosing the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of points to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still essential that you carry out 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 colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Theodore Alabama.