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How to Pick the Right Interior Design Degree Program Cottonwood Alabama

Cottonwood Alabama beautiful interior designed bathroomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Cottonwood AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you begin? Some future students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Cottonwood AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. 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 can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Cottonwood AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new career in Cottonwood AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions 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 about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options 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 their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Degree Programs

For students who to study in the comfort of their Cottonwood AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program 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 learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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After you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Cottonwood AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers 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 education are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Cottonwood AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Cottonwood AL college you select should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Cottonwood AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Cottonwood AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of support they offer. A number of interior design programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Cottonwood AL programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Cottonwood home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Cottonwood AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll 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.

Find Out More About Accredited Cottonwood Interior Design Schools

Find the Right Cottonwood Interior Design College

Picking the right interior design program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several points 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 respected in the field. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cottonwood AL.