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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Program Elba Alabama

Elba Alabama elegant interior designed custom bathroomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Elba AL, it's time to begin 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 get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? Many future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of 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 occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Elba AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • 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 meeting rooms and reception areas 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 several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Elba AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new profession in Elba AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover 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 secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer 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 the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Schools

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Elba AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain 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 Schools

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Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially 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 may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Elba AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an excellent education, the Elba AL program you enroll in should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement 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 esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a large network of Elba AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Elba AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Elba AL schools you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Elba home, go to the college and attend a few classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Elba AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Elba Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Best Elba Interior Design School

Choosing the right interior design school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Elba AL.