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How to Select the Right Interior Design Program Highland Lakes Alabama

Highland Lakes Alabama beautiful interior designed bathroomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college 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 residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get the appropriate 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 could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But just where do you start? Many prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk 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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Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Highland Lakes AL can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Highland Lakes AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to launch your new career in Highland Lakes AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain 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 a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits 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 about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly 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 as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Degree Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Highland Lakes AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you pick is accredited by a respected 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 online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

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When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Highland Lakes AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional 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 rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Highland Lakes AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require 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 calling for licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Highland Lakes AL program you select should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a significant network of Highland Lakes AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Highland Lakes AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Highland Lakes AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Highland Lakes home, go to the school and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design college you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Highland Lakes AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Top Highland Lakes Interior Design Colleges

Choose the Best Highland Lakes Interior Design College

Selecting the right interior designer program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented 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 excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Highland Lakes AL.