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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Degree Program Elba Alabama

Elba Alabama elegant interior designed spacious bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Elba AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? Many potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching 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 alternatives are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Elba AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Elba AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new career in Elba AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after attaining a 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 enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Online Interior Design Colleges

For students who to study in the comfort of their Elba AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Elba AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer school and program that you select 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 receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify 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 college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Elba AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Elba AL program you select should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a significant network of Elba AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Elba AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college 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 provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Elba AL programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Elba home, go to the college 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 experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Elba AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Accredited Elba Interior Design Courses

Find the Right Elba Interior Design College

Picking the ideal interior design college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are several things to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. 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 drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Elba AL.