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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Dothan AL

How to Select the Right Interior Designer College

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Dothan AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But where do you begin? A number of potential students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you must ask 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 class alternatives are offered.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Dothan AL

Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The principal difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught 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 categories that an interior designer in Dothan AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus 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 lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Dothan Alabama interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
 

Interior Design Degrees

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

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade needed 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 provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. 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 programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Dothan Alabama interior designer bathroomOnce you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Dothan AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure 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 aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Dothan Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Dothan AL program you select 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 obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of Dothan AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Dothan AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Dothan AL schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Dothan home, visit the college and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer college you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Dothan AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Design College near Dothan Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Dothan AlabamaSelecting the right interior designer program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are many factors to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still essential that you complete 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 ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Dothan Alabama.