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How to Find the Right Interior Designer School Cordova Alabama

Cordova Alabama elegant interior designed custom bathroomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Cordova AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you receive the proper training to put your skills 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 also. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 alternatives are offered.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training 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 living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Cordova AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. 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 may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating 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 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new career in Cordova AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions 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 technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Interior Design Online Colleges

For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Cordova AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy 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 schools 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 decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, 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 dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your Cordova AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design college and program 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). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Cordova AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become 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 some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Cordova AL school you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination 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? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a large network of Cordova AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Cordova AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Cordova AL schools you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Cordova home, visit the college and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Cordova AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Accredited Cordova Interior Design Courses

Choose the Ideal Cordova Interior Design School

Selecting the ideal interior design program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest 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 ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cordova AL.