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How to Choose the Right Interior Design Degree Program Marion Alabama

Marion Alabama beautiful interior designed spacious bathroomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Marion AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly 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 costs. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 vs Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Marion AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically 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 Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to 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 concepts, Marion AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new profession in Marion AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have 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 required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Online Interior Designer Colleges

For students who to study in the convenience of their Marion AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended 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 driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire 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 confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Marion AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Marion AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Marion AL program you select should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a substantial network of Marion AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Marion AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is imperative 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 Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Marion AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Marion home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Marion AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Top Marion Interior Design Colleges

Select the Best Marion Interior Design School

Choosing the right interior designer college is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs 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 Marion AL.