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How to Select the Right Interior Designer Course Highland Lakes Alabama

Highland Lakes Alabama elegant interior designed spacious bathroomNow that you have made a decision 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 talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you receive the appropriate 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 may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you start? Some potential students will start their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, 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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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Highland Lakes AL can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Highland Lakes AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new career in Highland Lakes AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees 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.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Online Interior Designer Degree Programs

For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Highland Lakes AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

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After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical 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 an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many 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 mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Highland Lakes AL college you select should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Highland Lakes AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Highland Lakes AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Highland Lakes AL colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Highland Lakes home, visit the college and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some 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 Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Highland Lakes 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, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Accredited Highland Lakes Interior Design Programs

Choose the Best Highland Lakes Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior design college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Highland Lakes AL.