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How to Choose the Right Interior Design Course near Tuscumbia Alabama

Tuscumbia Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Tuscumbia AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? A number of future students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues 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 class options are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main distinction between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Tuscumbia AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Tuscumbia AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training required to launch your new profession in Tuscumbia AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver 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 lowest credential needed by a college graduate 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 attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices 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 degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Tuscumbia AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option 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 expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, 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 online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Tuscumbia AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design college and program that you select has earned accreditation from 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 receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Tuscumbia AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become 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 program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Tuscumbia AL school you select should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Tuscumbia AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Tuscumbia AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior design programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Tuscumbia AL schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Tuscumbia home, go to the college and monitor a couple of 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Tuscumbia AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Right Tuscumbia Interior Design College

Picking the ideal interior design program is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several points to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still imperative 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 effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tuscumbia Alabama.