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How to Select the Right Interior Designer College Highland Lakes Alabama

Highland Lakes Alabama elegant interior designed spacious bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Highland Lakes AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you begin? Many future students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Highland Lakes AL can specialize in:

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

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to 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 picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Highland Lakes AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new profession in Highland Lakes AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt 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) examination required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain 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 deal with the creative and technical components of the business required 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 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Designer Online Classes

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Highland Lakes AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive 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 confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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When you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Highland Lakes AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify 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 education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Highland Lakes AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become 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 requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Highland Lakes AL school you enroll in should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Highland Lakes AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Highland Lakes AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of support they offer. A number of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Highland Lakes AL schools you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Highland Lakes home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design program you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Highland Lakes AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Top Highland Lakes Interior Design Courses

Enroll in the Right Highland Lakes Interior Design School

Picking the ideal interior design college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several things to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Highland Lakes AL.