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How to Choose the Right Interior Design Course Emerald Mountain Alabama

Emerald Mountain Alabama elegant interior designed bathroomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Emerald Mountain AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? Many future students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will address those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 Decoration and Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates 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 taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Emerald Mountain AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically 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 example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Emerald Mountain AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new profession in Emerald Mountain AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally 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 called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Colleges

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Emerald Mountain AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, 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 distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Emerald Mountain AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you choose 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Emerald Mountain AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become 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 program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Emerald Mountain AL school you choose should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Emerald Mountain AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Emerald Mountain AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of support they provide. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Emerald Mountain AL schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Emerald Mountain home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Emerald Mountain 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 option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Accredited Emerald Mountain Interior Design Colleges

Pick the Ideal Emerald Mountain Interior Design School

Selecting the right interior design program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Emerald Mountain AL.