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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Degree Program West Blocton Alabama

West Blocton Alabama luxury interior designed custom bathroomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near West Blocton AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? Some potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal distinction between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in West Blocton AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. 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 may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

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

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new profession in West Blocton AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below 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 approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business 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 two year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly 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 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Designer Online Schools

For students who to study in the comfort of their West Blocton AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your West Blocton AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options as well. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional 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 a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many West Blocton AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get 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 program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the West Blocton AL college you choose should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a substantial network of West Blocton AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the West Blocton AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the West Blocton AL programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your West Blocton home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design college you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near West Blocton AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online West Blocton Interior Design Programs

Find the Ideal West Blocton Interior Design Program

Picking the right interior designer college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right 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.