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How to Select the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Dunnavant Alabama

Dunnavant Alabama luxury interior designed spacious bathroomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Dunnavant AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 choices are offered.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Dunnavant AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, 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 emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Dunnavant AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new profession in Dunnavant AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed 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. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment 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 facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Designer Online Classes

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Dunnavant AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, 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 confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Dunnavant AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might 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 home 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 college. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. 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 gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just confirm 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Dunnavant AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some 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 school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Dunnavant AL program you choose should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly 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 indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Dunnavant AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Dunnavant AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Dunnavant AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Dunnavant home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design college you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Dunnavant AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Online Dunnavant Interior Design Colleges

Select the Best Dunnavant Interior Design School

Picking the right interior design program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Dunnavant AL.