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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer College Ashland Alabama

Ashland Alabama elegant interior designed spacious bathroomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Ashland AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Some future students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered as well. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary distinction between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting 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 educated to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Ashland AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public 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 spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Ashland AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to begin your new career in Ashland AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who desire 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 adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Designer Online Schools

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Ashland AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges 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 minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Ashland AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design college and program 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Ashland AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Ashland AL school you select should also furnish the suitable training 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 earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Ashland AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Ashland AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Ashland AL programs you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Ashland home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Ashland AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Top Ashland Interior Design Courses

Select the Right Ashland Interior Design College

Picking the right interior designer program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are many factors to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Ashland AL.