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How to Select the Right Interior Designer College New Hope Alabama

New Hope Alabama luxury interior designed spacious bathroomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near New Hope AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam 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 considering before you make your final decision. But where do you begin? Some potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas 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 basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial 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 produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, New Hope AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to start your new career in New Hope AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain 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 covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things 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 wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

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

Online Interior Design Degree Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their New Hope AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online programs 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 commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, 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 dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

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When you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your New Hope AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many New Hope AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the New Hope AL school you select should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a large network of New Hope AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the New Hope AL schools you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school 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 personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the New Hope AL programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your New Hope home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer school you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near New Hope AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Accredited New Hope Interior Design Colleges

Find the Right New Hope Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior designer program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many factors to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in New Hope AL.