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How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Clayton Alabama

Clayton Alabama luxury interior designed custom bathroomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Clayton AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your final choice. But just where do you start? Many future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered also. We will address those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 choices are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two 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 spaces. 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 and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Clayton AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate predominantly 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 stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. 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 integrating Feng shui principles, Clayton AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new career in Clayton AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Colleges

For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Clayton AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make 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 colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your Clayton AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Clayton AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get 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 college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Clayton AL school you choose should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want 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 a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a significant network of Clayton AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Clayton AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Clayton AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Clayton home, go to the college and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer school you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Clayton AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Top Clayton Interior Design Programs

Find the Best Clayton Interior Design School

Selecting the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several factors to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Clayton AL.