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How to Select the Right Interior Designer School Centre Alabama

Centre Alabama luxury interior designed custom bathroomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Centre AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative 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 could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? Some future students will launch their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Centre AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate primarily 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 focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Centre AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new career in Centre AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of 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) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order 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 required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Online Interior Design Degree Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Centre AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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When you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Centre AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer 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). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 training are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Centre AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require 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 calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Centre AL program you select should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing 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 need some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Centre AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Centre AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Centre AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Centre home, visit the school and attend a few classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer program you choose offers classes the fit your busy 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 Centre AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Accredited Centre Interior Design Courses

Find the Right Centre Interior Design College

Picking the right interior design school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Centre AL.