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

Emerald Mountain Alabama luxury interior designed bathroomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college 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 interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since several 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 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 final choice. But where do you begin? Some potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Emerald Mountain AL can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Emerald Mountain AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training required to begin your new career in Emerald Mountain AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose 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 discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Online Interior Designer Colleges

For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Emerald Mountain AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs 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 colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Emerald Mountain AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Emerald Mountain AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Emerald Mountain AL college you choose should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with 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 earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Emerald Mountain AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Emerald Mountain AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Emerald Mountain AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Emerald Mountain home, visit the campus and monitor a few classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night 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, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Accredited Emerald Mountain Interior Design Programs

Find the Right Emerald Mountain Interior Design Program

Selecting the ideal interior designer school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Emerald Mountain AL.