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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Dothan AL

How to Find the Right Interior Design Course

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program 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 spaces, it's important that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you carry out the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But just where do you start? Many prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 available.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Dothan AL

Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The primary difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Dothan AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For 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 primary concern.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. 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 integrating Feng shui principles, Dothan Alabama interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new profession in Dothan AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • 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 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Dothan Alabama interior designer bathroomNow that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Dothan AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation 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 college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when securing 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 schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require 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 calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Dothan AL program you choose should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Dothan AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Dothan AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of support they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. 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 cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Dothan AL schools you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Dothan home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Dothan AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Design Program near Dothan Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Dothan AlabamaSelecting the right interior designer college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still important that you perform 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 right final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Dothan Alabama.