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How to Find the Right Interior Design School Cleveland Alabama

Cleveland Alabama beautiful interior designed bathroomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Cleveland AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the right 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 may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? Many prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered also. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at 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 compared to Interior Design

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

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Cleveland AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new profession in Cleveland AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be covered 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 education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment 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 lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure 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 offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Schools

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Cleveland AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting 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 reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain 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 confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

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When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Cleveland AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But selecting 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 need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just verify 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Cleveland AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate 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 some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Cleveland AL college you select should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Cleveland AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Cleveland AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is imperative 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 assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask 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 sit in on a few classes. While there speak with a few students and find out 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? Finally, make sure that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Cleveland AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Top Cleveland Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Cleveland Interior Design Program

Selecting the ideal interior design program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many points to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cleveland AL.