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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Harpersville Alabama

Harpersville Alabama luxury interior designed bathroomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Harpersville AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? A number of potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will cover those issues and other important 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 choices are available.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

modern Harpersville Alabama interior designed business meeting room

Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Harpersville AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example 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 selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Harpersville AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new profession in Harpersville AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment 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 technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Designer Online Classes

For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Harpersville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are working 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 sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting 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 minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire 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 environment, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

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When you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Harpersville AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design program and school 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Harpersville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Harpersville AL college you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet 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 attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a sizable network of Harpersville AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Harpersville AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer 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 little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Harpersville AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Harpersville home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with a few 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 Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer college you select provides classes the fit your active 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 Harpersville AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Harpersville Interior Design Programs

Pick the Ideal Harpersville Interior Design School

Choosing the ideal interior design school is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Harpersville AL.