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How to Find the Best Interior Designer School near Valley Alabama

Valley Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design school 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 imperative that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you start? A number of future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education 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 living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Valley AL can specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Valley AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new career in Valley AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically 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 cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty 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. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Valley AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

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When you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Valley AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you select 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). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their instructors 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, 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 programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Valley AL college you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Valley AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Valley AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Valley AL schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Valley home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Valley AL, make certain 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, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Valley Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Right Valley Interior Design College

Selecting the right interior designer program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor 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 esteemed in the field. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Valley Alabama.