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How to Choose the Best Interior Designer Course near Valley Alabama

Valley Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Valley AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final choice. But where do you begin? Many future students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key difference between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many 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 many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Valley AL can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Valley AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new profession in Valley AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter 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) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete 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 four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects 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 supply advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally 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 field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Valley AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you pick is accredited by a recognized 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 education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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After you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your Valley AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues 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 programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Valley AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Valley AL school you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Valley AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Valley AL schools you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program 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 larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Valley AL programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Valley home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask 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? Last, confirm that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Valley AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Right Valley Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior designer college is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Valley Alabama.