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How to Find the Right Interior Design Degree Program near Troy Alabama

Troy Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Troy AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final choice. But just where do you start? A number of future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Troy AL can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Troy AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new career in Troy AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely 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 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Troy AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have busy 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 many students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program 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 obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Troy AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Troy AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate 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, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Troy AL school you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Troy AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Troy AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Troy AL programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Troy home, visit the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few 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? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Troy AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Right Troy Interior Design School

Picking the right interior design school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Troy Alabama.