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How to Pick the Best Interior Design School near Troy Alabama

Troy Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Troy AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are considering before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other vital 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 training alternatives are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Troy AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally focus primarily 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 concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Troy AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new career in Troy AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student 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 acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally 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 field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Troy AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Troy AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer college 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). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Troy AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Troy AL program you choose should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a sizable network of Troy AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Troy AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Troy AL colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Troy home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Troy AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Troy Interior Design School

Selecting the right interior designer college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many factors 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 respected in the business. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Troy Alabama.