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How to Select the Best Interior Designer Course near Theodore Alabama

Theodore Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design 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 spaces, it's important that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are considering before you make your final choice. But exactly where do you start? Some potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the amount 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 requires formal training 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 many occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Theodore AL may specialize in:

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

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Theodore AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new profession in Theodore AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available 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 furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees 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 typically completed in three to five years.

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

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Theodore AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

Topics 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 task of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Theodore AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Theodore AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Theodore AL school you enroll in should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, 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 trade and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Theodore AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Theodore AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance 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 ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Theodore AL colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Theodore home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer program you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night 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, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Right Theodore Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior designer program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Theodore Alabama.