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How to Select the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Aliceville Alabama

Aliceville Alabama beautiful interior designed custom bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Aliceville AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate 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 appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? Some prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking 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 training choices are offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Aliceville 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, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate predominantly 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 emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

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

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to launch your new profession in Aliceville AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to 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 take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve 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 college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Online Interior Design Classes

For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Aliceville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have busy 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 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. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn 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 program may be the perfect option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

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When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Aliceville AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding 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 education are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Aliceville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Aliceville AL college you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam 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 attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Aliceville AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Aliceville AL schools you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Aliceville AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Aliceville home, visit the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Aliceville AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Aliceville Interior Design Courses

Find the Ideal Aliceville Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior designer program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Aliceville AL.