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How to Find the Right Interior Design Program Blue Ridge Alabama

Blue Ridge Alabama elegant interior designed spacious bathroomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Blue Ridge AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But exactly where do you start? Many future students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching 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 Design and Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Blue Ridge AL may specialize in:

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

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They 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, Blue Ridge AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training necessary to start your new profession in Blue Ridge AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally 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 several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Online Interior Designer Schools

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Blue Ridge AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Blue Ridge AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Blue Ridge AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So besides providing an excellent education, the Blue Ridge AL program you select should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a large network of Blue Ridge AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Blue Ridge AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Blue Ridge AL programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Blue Ridge home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design school you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Blue Ridge AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Top Blue Ridge Interior Design Schools

Find the Right Blue Ridge Interior Design Program

Picking the ideal interior design college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many things to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining 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 excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Blue Ridge AL.