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How to Select the Right Interior Design Program Mount Olive Alabama

Mount Olive Alabama elegant interior designed spacious bathroomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Mount Olive AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Many future students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Mount Olive AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Mount Olive AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new profession in Mount Olive AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide 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 several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Online Interior Designer Classes

For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Mount Olive AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Mount Olive AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. 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 evaluation of their programs and instructors. 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 training are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Mount Olive AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate 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 program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Mount Olive AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, 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 field and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Mount Olive AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Mount Olive AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Mount Olive AL programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Mount Olive home, visit the campus and attend 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 credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design college you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Mount Olive AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Accredited Mount Olive Interior Design Schools

Choose the Ideal Mount Olive Interior Design Program

Selecting the right interior design program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several things to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs 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 Mount Olive AL.