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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Dothan AL

How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design College

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Dothan AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you receive the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final selection. But where do you start? Many prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. We will cover those topics and other important 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 and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Dothan AL

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The principal difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Dothan AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room 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 commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are several areas of commercial and residential 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 produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Dothan Alabama interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new career in Dothan AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty 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 their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly 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.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Why Become 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.

What to Ask Interior Design Colleges

After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Dothan AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. 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 requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Dothan Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require 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 college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Dothan AL program you select should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a large network of Dothan AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Dothan AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of support they offer. A number of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Dothan AL programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Dothan home, visit the school and attend a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Dothan AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Interior Design School near Dothan Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Dothan AlabamaSelecting the right interior designer college is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular 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 points to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Dothan Alabama.