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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Degree Program Cleveland Alabama

Cleveland Alabama luxury interior designed bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Cleveland AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But where do you start? Many future students will start their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main difference 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 spaces. On the other hand, conducting business 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 taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Cleveland AL can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new career in Cleveland AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Designer Online Classes

For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Cleveland AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be 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 colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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When you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Cleveland AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Cleveland AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Cleveland AL program you select should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill 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 attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Cleveland AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

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

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Cleveland AL schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Cleveland home, go to 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 experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Cleveland AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Accredited Cleveland Interior Design Colleges

Pick the Right Cleveland Interior Design School

Choosing the ideal interior design program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are many things to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cleveland AL.