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How to Choose the Right Interior Design School Ashford Alabama

Ashford Alabama beautiful interior designed custom bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Ashford AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But just where do you start? A number of potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Ashford AL can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including 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 integrating Feng shui principles, Ashford AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new career in Ashford AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations 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 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment 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 creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Online Interior Designer Schools

For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Ashford AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college must be within commuting distance from your Ashford AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the most affordable college 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 look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and college that you enroll in 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Ashford AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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 college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides providing an excellent education, the Ashford AL program you select should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing 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 held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Ashford AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Ashford AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Ashford AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Ashford home, go to the school and attend a couple of classes. While there talk 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Ashford AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Top Ashford Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Ashford Interior Design Program

Picking the ideal interior design program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several points to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Ashford AL.