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How to Find the Right Interior Designer College Chatom Alabama

Chatom Alabama luxury interior designed custom bathroomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Chatom AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking 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 alternatives are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Chatom AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently 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 may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. 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 incorporating Feng shui principles, Chatom AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new career in Chatom AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination 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. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs 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 technical and creative aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Online Interior Designer Colleges

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Chatom AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses 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 respected 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 setting, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your Chatom AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Chatom AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an outstanding education, the Chatom AL program you choose should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Chatom AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Chatom AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Chatom AL schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Chatom home, go to the college and attend a couple of 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 credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Chatom AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Accredited Chatom Interior Design Courses

Select the Best Chatom Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior designer college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Chatom AL.