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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Course Ardmore Alabama

Ardmore Alabama beautiful interior designed bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Ardmore 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 obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you start? A number of potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in 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 Decoration and Interior Design

modern Ardmore Alabama interior designed business boardroom

Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between the two is the amount of training 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 requires 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 educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Ardmore AL may specialize in:

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

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Ardmore AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Designer Degrees

open Ardmore Alabama interior designed living room

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training required to start your new career in Ardmore AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at numerous 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 provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and use 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 called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Online Interior Designer Degree Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Ardmore AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school 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 receive 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 environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Ardmore AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your choices as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation 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 to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment 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 college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Ardmore AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready 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) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Ardmore AL school you select should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a significant network of Ardmore AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Ardmore AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Ardmore AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Ardmore home, go to the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Ardmore AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Ardmore Interior Design Schools

Select the Right Ardmore Interior Design College

Choosing the ideal interior designer college is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several factors to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Ardmore AL.