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How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Program near Troy Alabama

Troy Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Troy AL, it's time to start 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 receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. 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 must be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Troy AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality 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 focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

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

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new profession in Troy AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business needed 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 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take 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 colleges. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer 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 cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Troy AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Troy AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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 some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an excellent education, the Troy AL program you choose should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a large network of Troy AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Troy AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Troy AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Troy home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer college you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important 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 enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Troy Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Troy Interior Design College

Selecting the right interior designer college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Troy Alabama.