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How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Degree Program near Trussville Alabama

Trussville Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Trussville 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 right training to put your talents 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 do the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But where do you begin? A number of potential students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Trussville AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces 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 several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Trussville AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new profession in Trussville AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure 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. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade needed 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 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Trussville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive 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 school may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Trussville AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and college 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Trussville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate 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 school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from providing an excellent education, the Trussville AL college you select should also provide the appropriate education 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? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly 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 a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Trussville AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Trussville AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Trussville AL schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Trussville home, go to the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Trussville AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Trussville Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Right Trussville Interior Design School

Choosing the ideal interior designer program is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Trussville Alabama.