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How to Pick the Right Interior Design Degree Program Livingston Alabama

Livingston Alabama elegant interior designed custom bathroomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Livingston AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you do the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in 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 alternatives are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Livingston AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to 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 concepts, Livingston 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 available in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new profession in Livingston AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Classes

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Livingston AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Livingston AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design 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 gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Livingston AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Livingston AL program you choose should also furnish the proper training 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a large network of Livingston AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Livingston AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer 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 minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Livingston AL colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Livingston home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Livingston AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Accredited Livingston Interior Design Schools

Pick the Right Livingston Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior design program is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Livingston AL.