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How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer Program near Theodore Alabama

Theodore Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program 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 interiors, it's essential that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? Many future students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. We will address those topics and other important 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 class options are offered.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Theodore AL can specialize in:

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

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Theodore AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new profession in Theodore AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed 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. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary 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 mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Theodore AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great solution 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 practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive 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 environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

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When you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school must be within driving distance from your Theodore AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their instructors 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Theodore AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get 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 calling for licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an outstanding education, the Theodore AL school you select should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a substantial network of Theodore AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Theodore AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Theodore AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Theodore home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer school you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Theodore AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Best Theodore Interior Design Program

Choosing the right interior design program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several points to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. 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 colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Theodore Alabama.