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How to Select the Best Interior Designer Degree Program near Wetumpka Alabama

Wetumpka Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Wetumpka AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you begin? A number of potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you must ask 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 choices are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of 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 spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Wetumpka AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. 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 may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Wetumpka AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new career in Wetumpka AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter 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) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options 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. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically 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 several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Wetumpka AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Wetumpka AL home. Naturally 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 expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Wetumpka AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become 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 some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Wetumpka AL school you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Wetumpka AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Wetumpka AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Wetumpka AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Wetumpka home, go to the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Wetumpka AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Best Wetumpka Interior Design College

Choosing the right interior designer school is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several things to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure 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 research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Wetumpka Alabama.