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How to Find the Right Interior Designer College New Hope Alabama

New Hope Alabama luxury interior designed custom bathroomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near New Hope 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 imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are considering before you make your final selection. But where do you start? A number of potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary distinction between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in New Hope AL may specialize in:

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

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

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new profession in New Hope AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain 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 facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally 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 needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Colleges

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their New Hope AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your New Hope AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design school and program that you choose has been accredited by 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many New Hope AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require 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 mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the New Hope AL college you choose should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination 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? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a significant network of New Hope AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the New Hope AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of support they provide. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the New Hope AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your New Hope home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near New Hope AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Accredited New Hope Interior Design Courses

Select the Right New Hope Interior Design Program

Picking the right interior design college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in New Hope AL.