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How to Select the Best Interior Design Course near Tuscumbia Alabama

Tuscumbia Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Tuscumbia AL, it's time to begin 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 get the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are considering before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Many prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Tuscumbia AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Tuscumbia AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new career in Tuscumbia AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Tuscumbia AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you select is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire 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 confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Tuscumbia AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Tuscumbia AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate 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, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Tuscumbia AL college you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. 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 college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Tuscumbia AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Tuscumbia AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Tuscumbia AL colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Tuscumbia home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some 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? Finally, make sure that the interior design college you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Tuscumbia AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Tuscumbia Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Right Tuscumbia Interior Design Program

Picking the right interior designer college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many points to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tuscumbia Alabama.