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How to Find the Right Interior Designer College Minor Alabama

Minor Alabama elegant interior designed bathroomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Minor AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? Many prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

modern Minor Alabama interior designed corporate boardroom

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between the two is the amount of education 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 necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Minor AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Minor AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

spacious Minor Alabama interior designed family room

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new profession in Minor AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such 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 mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Online Interior Design Degree Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Minor AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy 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 many students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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When you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Minor AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded 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 assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Minor AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several 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 school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Minor AL program you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a significant network of Minor AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Minor AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Minor AL colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Minor home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Minor AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Top Minor Interior Design Schools

Choose the Best Minor Interior Design School

Choosing the right interior design school is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many things to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess 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 Minor AL.