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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School Piedmont Alabama

Piedmont Alabama luxury interior designed bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Piedmont AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you receive the proper training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications 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 looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training 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 living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Piedmont AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, 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 including Feng shui concepts, Piedmont AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to start your new career in Piedmont AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative 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 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized 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. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Schools

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Piedmont AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Piedmont AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college 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 obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Piedmont AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Piedmont AL college you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a large network of Piedmont AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Piedmont AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed 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 assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Piedmont AL schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Piedmont home, go to the campus and sit in on a few 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 school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Piedmont AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Piedmont Interior Design Courses

Choose the Right Piedmont Interior Design School

Selecting the ideal interior design college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding 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 major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Piedmont AL.