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How to Choose the Right Interior Design Degree Program Eclectic Alabama

Eclectic Alabama beautiful interior designed bathroomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Eclectic AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get 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 preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education 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 areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Eclectic 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 instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For 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 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 must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Eclectic AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new career in Eclectic AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose 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) examination required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Degree Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Eclectic AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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When you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Eclectic AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field 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 instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify 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 offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Eclectic AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Eclectic AL school you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a large network of Eclectic AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Eclectic AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Eclectic AL schools you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Eclectic home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Eclectic AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Eclectic Interior Design Programs

Find the Ideal Eclectic Interior Design Program

Choosing the right interior design college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several things to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Eclectic AL.