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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Program Cottondale Alabama

Cottondale Alabama luxury interior designed spacious bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Cottondale AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you start? Many prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of 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 areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Cottondale AL can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Cottondale AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new profession in Cottondale AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives 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 their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Online Interior Designer Schools

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Cottondale AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent option 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 laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain 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 ideal alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Cottondale AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Cottondale AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Cottondale AL program you select should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Cottondale AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Cottondale AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Cottondale AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Cottondale home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Cottondale AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Accredited Cottondale Interior Design Colleges

Pick the Right Cottondale Interior Design School

Selecting the right interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are a number of points to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cottondale AL.