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How to Select the Right Interior Design School Emerald Mountain Alabama

Emerald Mountain Alabama elegant interior designed custom bathroomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Emerald Mountain 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 spaces, it's essential that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But just where do you begin? Some future students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask 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 class alternatives are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Emerald Mountain AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality 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 appearance as the main consideration.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Emerald Mountain AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new career in Emerald Mountain AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply 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 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Online Interior Design Classes

For students who to study in the convenience of their Emerald Mountain AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs 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 decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Emerald Mountain AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive 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 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 applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Emerald Mountain AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Emerald Mountain AL program you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably need 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 high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a large network of Emerald Mountain AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Emerald Mountain AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Emerald Mountain AL schools you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Emerald Mountain home, go to the school and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Emerald Mountain AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Emerald Mountain Interior Design Courses

Find the Right Emerald Mountain Interior Design Program

Selecting the right interior designer school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a school where you will receive your education and cultivate 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 a number of points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Emerald Mountain AL.