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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Program Steele Alabama

Steele Alabama elegant interior designed custom bathroomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Steele 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 important that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final choice. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key distinction between them 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. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous 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 attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Steele AL can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new profession in Steele AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions 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 technical and creative components 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 supply advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Interior Design Online Colleges

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Steele AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Steele AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Steele AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Steele AL school you choose should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a significant network of Steele AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Steele AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Steele AL programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Steele home, visit the college and monitor 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? Finally, make sure that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Steele AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Top Steele Interior Design Courses

Choose the Ideal Steele Interior Design School

Picking the ideal interior design program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several points to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Steele AL.