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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Dothan AL

How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer Degree Program

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Dothan AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities 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 vital that you perform the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? Many potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 options are offered.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Dothan AL

Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The principal distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Dothan AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Dothan Alabama interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
 

Interior Design Training Programs

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new profession in Dothan 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 regardless of which degree program you opt 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) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options 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. Doctorate programs 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 usually 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 called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Why Do You Want to Be an Interior Designer?

Dothan AL student attending interior design school onlineThere are many options available to you once you graduate and enter the field of interior design.  If you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit you may become self-employed and open your own interior design shop. You might also work for a small or larger design firm. Designers have careers creating interiors for businesses, hospitals, government buildings, as well as private residences. Rarely is a design career a 9 to 5 job. You’ll need to be flexible, patient, and persistent to get your career off the ground. But you will have the opportunity to earn an attractive income as well as the personal satisfaction of creating beautiful living and working spaces.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

After you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Dothan AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Dothan Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to 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. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Dothan AL program you choose should also furnish the proper training 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 received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Dothan AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Dothan AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Dothan AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Dothan home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Dothan AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer College near Dothan Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Dothan AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior design school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still essential that you complete 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 appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Dothan Alabama.