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How to Pick the Right Interior Design College Cleveland Alabama

Cleveland Alabama luxury interior designed bathroomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Cleveland AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? Many potential students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges 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 sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk 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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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person 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, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Cleveland AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may 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 functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Cleveland AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new profession in Cleveland AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals 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, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at a number of 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 deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Online Interior Design Schools

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Cleveland AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed 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 schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, 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 learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools

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After you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Cleveland AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm 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 training are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Cleveland AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require 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 school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Cleveland AL program you choose should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools 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 college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a large network of Cleveland AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Cleveland AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of support they provide. Many of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Cleveland AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Cleveland home, go to the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Cleveland AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Accredited Cleveland Interior Design Programs

Find the Best Cleveland Interior Design School

Selecting the right interior design program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cleveland AL.