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How to Choose the Right Interior Design Program Marion Alabama

Marion Alabama luxury interior designed bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Marion AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But where do you begin? A number of future students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Marion 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, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus 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 stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Marion AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new profession in Marion AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth 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 secure an entry level job 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 options in specialty majors in general areas such 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 mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order 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, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Online Interior Design Colleges

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Marion AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you select is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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After you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Marion AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design program and school that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional 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 undergone an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Marion AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So besides providing an excellent education, the Marion AL program you choose should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a substantial network of Marion AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Marion AL schools you are evaluating and find out what type of support they provide. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Marion AL programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Marion home, visit the school and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few 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, make sure that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Marion AL, confirm that those classes are available. 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 due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Accredited Marion Interior Design Colleges

Pick the Right Marion Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior designer college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of points to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Marion AL.