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How to Find the Right Interior Design Degree Program Alexandria Alabama

Alexandria Alabama luxury interior designed custom bathroomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Alexandria AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? A number of prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training 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 functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Alexandria 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, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Alexandria AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training required to launch your new career in Alexandria AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty 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. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Online Interior Design Classes

For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Alexandria AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Alexandria AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your options as well. 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 things that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. 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 gone through an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Alexandria AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Alexandria AL school you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Alexandria AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Alexandria AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Alexandria AL programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Alexandria home, visit the school and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Alexandria AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Top Alexandria Interior Design Courses

Find the Best Alexandria Interior Design College

Choosing the right interior designer program is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will receive your training 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 receive a higher education, there are several points to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alexandria AL.