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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer School Cottonwood Alabama

Cottonwood Alabama luxury interior designed spacious bathroomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Cottonwood AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you receive the proper 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 preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Many potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Cottonwood AL may specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new profession in Cottonwood AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for 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 short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Online Interior Designer Colleges

For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Cottonwood AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving 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 minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option 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 task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Cottonwood AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design school and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Cottonwood AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get 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 school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Cottonwood AL school you enroll in should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet 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 assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a substantial network of Cottonwood AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Cottonwood AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Cottonwood AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Cottonwood home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with a few 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Cottonwood AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Top Cottonwood Interior Design Colleges

Choose the Best Cottonwood Interior Design College

Picking the ideal interior design program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several things to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cottonwood AL.