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How to Find the Right Interior Design Degree Program Emerald Mountain Alabama

Emerald Mountain Alabama beautiful interior designed bathroomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Emerald Mountain AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you start? Some potential students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, 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 as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Emerald Mountain AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to 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 produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Emerald Mountain AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training needed to start your new career in Emerald Mountain AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs 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 creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional 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 needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Degree Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Emerald Mountain AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, 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 education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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When you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Emerald Mountain AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college 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, a number of Emerald Mountain AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Emerald Mountain AL school you select should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Emerald Mountain AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Emerald Mountain AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of aid they provide. Many of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Emerald Mountain AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Emerald Mountain home, go to the school and attend a few 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 experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Emerald Mountain AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Accredited Emerald Mountain Interior Design Programs

Select the Best Emerald Mountain Interior Design College

Choosing the ideal interior design college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several points to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate 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.