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How to Choose the Right Interior Design Degree Program Cleveland Alabama

Cleveland Alabama elegant interior designed bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Cleveland AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? Many prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Cleveland AL can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Cleveland AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new career in Cleveland AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take 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 short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete 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 four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five 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 some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Designer Online Schools

For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Cleveland AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive 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 confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs

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When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Cleveland AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the college and the degree program 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 training are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Cleveland AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Cleveland AL college you select should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a significant network of Cleveland AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Cleveland AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they provide. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Cleveland AL programs you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Cleveland home, visit the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Cleveland AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Accredited Cleveland Interior Design Programs

Pick the Best Cleveland Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior designer college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of points to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cleveland AL.