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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Dothan AL

How to Pick the Best Interior Design Degree Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Dothan AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final selection. But where do you start? Some potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Dothan AL

Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The key distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Dothan AL may specialize in:

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

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Dothan Alabama interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Design Training Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new profession in Dothan AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Online Interior Design Degree Programs

Dothan AL student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing to study in the comfort of their Dothan AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

When you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Dothan AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Dothan Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an excellent education, the Dothan AL college you select should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy 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 earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. 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 an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Dothan AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Dothan AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Dothan AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Dothan home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design college you enroll in provides 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 Dothan AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Designer School near Dothan Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Dothan AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior designer school is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. 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 schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Dothan Alabama.