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How to Pick the Right Interior Design Program Summerdale Alabama

Summerdale Alabama beautiful interior designed spacious bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Summerdale AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final selection. But just where do you start? Many prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

modern Summerdale Alabama interior designed business boardroom

Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess 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 many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Summerdale AL can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Summerdale AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degrees

open Summerdale Alabama interior designed living room

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training needed to begin your new career in Summerdale AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives 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. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Online Interior Design Classes

For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Summerdale AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

modern Summerdale Alabama interior designed walk-in kitchen

Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Summerdale AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Summerdale AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Summerdale AL program you select should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Summerdale AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Summerdale AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior design schools offer financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors 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 large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Summerdale AL programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Summerdale home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Summerdale AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Summerdale Interior Design Programs

Choose the Ideal Summerdale Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of points to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Summerdale AL.