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How to Choose the Right Interior Design College Cherokee Alabama

Cherokee Alabama elegant interior designed bathroomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Cherokee AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you perform the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you start? Some future students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Cherokee AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area 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 dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Cherokee AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new profession in Cherokee AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade required 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 training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Online Interior Designer Schools

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Cherokee AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn 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 structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

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After you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Cherokee AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer school 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). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Cherokee AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several 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 several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Cherokee AL college you select should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Cherokee AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Cherokee AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Cherokee AL schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Cherokee home, go to the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with some 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 Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design college you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Cherokee AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Cherokee Interior Design Colleges

Select the Right Cherokee Interior Design College

Picking the right interior design school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still important that you complete 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 ideal final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cherokee AL.