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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer College West Blocton Alabama

West Blocton Alabama elegant interior designed bathroomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near West Blocton AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you do the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But where do you begin? Some potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in West Blocton AL can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new profession in West Blocton AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely 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 3 to 5 years.

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

Interior Designer Online Degree Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their West Blocton AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your West Blocton AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their teachers 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many West Blocton AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the West Blocton AL college you select 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 College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a large network of West Blocton AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the West Blocton AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the West Blocton AL programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your West Blocton home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. While there talk 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design college you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near West Blocton AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online West Blocton Interior Design Courses

Pick the Ideal West Blocton Interior Design School

Selecting the ideal interior design college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are several things to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still essential that you complete 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 colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in West Blocton AL.