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How to Find the Best Interior Designer Degree Program near Tuscumbia Alabama

Tuscumbia Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Tuscumbia AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be 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 assess and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? Some potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in 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 alternatives are offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some 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 often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Tuscumbia AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new profession in Tuscumbia AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining a 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 advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ 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 schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Tuscumbia AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option 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 study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Tuscumbia AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Tuscumbia AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of 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, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Tuscumbia AL college you choose should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing 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 regard within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Tuscumbia AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Tuscumbia AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Tuscumbia AL programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Tuscumbia home, visit the college and monitor 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 philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design school you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Tuscumbia AL, verify 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 procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Tuscumbia Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Right Tuscumbia Interior Design School

Selecting the right interior designer college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many points to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tuscumbia Alabama.