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How to Find the Right Interior Designer School near Tuscumbia Alabama

Tuscumbia Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design 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 commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

Interior Decoration and 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. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education 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 residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Tuscumbia AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. 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 including Feng shui concepts, Tuscumbia AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new profession in Tuscumbia AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated 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 choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide 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 normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business 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 provide advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Tuscumbia AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Tuscumbia AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Tuscumbia AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require 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 program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Tuscumbia AL school you enroll in should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with 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 received your interior designer 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 yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a large network of Tuscumbia AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Tuscumbia AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Tuscumbia AL schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Tuscumbia home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you choose 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 sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Tuscumbia Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Right Tuscumbia Interior Design College

Picking the ideal interior designer program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance 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 quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tuscumbia Alabama.