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How to Select the Right Interior Design Degree Program Malvern Alabama

Malvern Alabama luxury interior designed bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Malvern AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you get the right training to put your skills 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 exam also. So it's very important that you do the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? Many potential students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Malvern AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For 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 looks as the primary consideration.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Malvern AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new career in Malvern AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree 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 acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt 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 field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Designer Online Colleges

For students who to study in the convenience of their Malvern AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are employed 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 some students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Malvern AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools 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 organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Malvern AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Malvern AL college you choose should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a significant network of Malvern AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Malvern AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Malvern AL programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Malvern home, visit the campus and attend 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 styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer college you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Malvern AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Top Malvern Interior Design Colleges

Find the Ideal Malvern Interior Design School

Picking the ideal interior designer school is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Malvern AL.