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How to Find the Right Interior Design Program Riverside Alabama

Riverside Alabama luxury interior designed custom bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Riverside AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Some potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Riverside AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often 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 particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

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

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new profession in Riverside AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish 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 minimum 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 supply advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Online Interior Designer Colleges

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Riverside AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn 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 confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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After you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Riverside AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Riverside AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become 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 program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Riverside AL college you choose should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam 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 earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Riverside AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Riverside AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior design schools offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Riverside AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Riverside home, visit 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 styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer college you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Riverside AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Riverside Interior Design Programs

Select the Best Riverside Interior Design College

Choosing the right interior designer college is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Riverside AL.