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How to Select the Right Interior Design School Ashford Alabama

Ashford Alabama elegant interior designed spacious bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Ashford AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But where do you begin? Many potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. 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 before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Ashford AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary 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 have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Ashford AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new profession in Ashford AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt 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) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many 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 typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Designer Online Degree Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Ashford AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy 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 some students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school 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 earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Ashford AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. 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 undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Ashford AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become 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 some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Ashford AL program you enroll in should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering 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 college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a sizable network of Ashford AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Ashford AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Ashford AL colleges you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Ashford home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Ashford AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Ashford Interior Design Programs

Select the Ideal Ashford Interior Design Program

Choosing the right interior designer program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Ashford AL.