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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School Cordova Alabama

Cordova Alabama luxury interior designed custom bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Cordova AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? A number of potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration also. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching 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 and Interior Design

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Cordova AL may specialize in:

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

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to 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 produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Cordova AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new career in Cordova AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter 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 required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ 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", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Colleges

For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Cordova AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain 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 colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Cordova AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Cordova AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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 school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Cordova AL school you select should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a large network of Cordova AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Cordova AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain 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 school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Cordova AL schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Cordova home, go to the campus and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Cordova AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Cordova Interior Design Programs

Pick the Ideal Cordova Interior Design School

Selecting the right interior designer college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many factors to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. 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 appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cordova AL.