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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer College Hartford Alabama

Hartford Alabama beautiful interior designed custom bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Hartford AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you start? A number of future students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Hartford AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Hartford AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business 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 two year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices 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. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Online Interior Designer Schools

For students who to study in the convenience of their Hartford AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good option 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 practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Hartford AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Hartford AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Hartford AL college you select should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Hartford AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Hartford AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Hartford AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Hartford home, go to the campus and monitor a few classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design college you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Hartford AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and 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 work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Hartford Interior Design Programs

Select the Best Hartford Interior Design College

Picking the ideal interior designer program is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are a number of points to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Hartford AL.