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How to Find the Right Interior Designer Program near Troy Alabama

Troy Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Troy 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 important that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? Many prospective 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 key variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates 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 spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Troy AL can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Troy AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new career in Troy AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs 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 needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire 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 use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Troy AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college must be within commuting distance from your Troy AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Troy AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Troy AL school you enroll in should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam 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 designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges 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 indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Troy AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Troy AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Troy AL schools you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Troy home, go to the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design college you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Troy AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Best Troy Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior design school is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are several points to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Troy Alabama.