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How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Concord Alabama

Concord Alabama luxury interior designed custom bathroomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Concord 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 imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you start? Some prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Concord AL can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to start your new career in Concord AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide 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) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree 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 design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve 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 vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Interior Designer Online Degree Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Concord AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. 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 challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Concord AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Concord AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Concord AL college you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Concord AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Concord AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Concord AL schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Concord home, visit the school 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, confirm that the interior design college you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Concord AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Top Concord Interior Design Colleges

Pick the Best Concord Interior Design Program

Picking the right interior designer college is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many points to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Concord AL.