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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Level Plains Alabama

Level Plains Alabama luxury interior designed bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Level Plains AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? Many potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration 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 cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Level Plains AL may specialize in:

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

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Level Plains AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new career in Level Plains AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices 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 the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Interior Designer Online Classes

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Level Plains AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a good solution 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 laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

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When you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Level Plains AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify 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 training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Level Plains AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Level Plains AL program you choose should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a significant network of Level Plains AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Level Plains AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Level Plains AL schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Level Plains home, visit the college and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design college you enroll in offers 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 Level Plains AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Accredited Level Plains Interior Design Schools

Find the Right Level Plains Interior Design School

Selecting the ideal interior designer program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are a number of points to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Level Plains AL.