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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Program Stapleton Alabama

Stapleton Alabama luxury interior designed custom bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Stapleton AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents 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 examination as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But where do you start? Some potential students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Stapleton AL can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Stapleton AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new profession in Stapleton AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 furnish advanced design training after acquiring 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 their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Designer Online Classes

For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Stapleton AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Stapleton AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous 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 agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Stapleton AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of 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 college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an excellent education, the Stapleton AL program you select should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Stapleton AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Stapleton AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Stapleton AL colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Stapleton home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out 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, make certain that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Stapleton AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Stapleton Interior Design Programs

Pick the Best Stapleton Interior Design College

Choosing the ideal interior design school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs 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 Stapleton AL.