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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Dothan AL

How to Select the Right Interior Design School

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Dothan AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. 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 first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Dothan AL

Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The main distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education 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 living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Dothan AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Dothan Alabama interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
 

Interior Design Training Programs

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to launch your new career in Dothan AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after attaining the 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 the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

Dothan Alabama interior designer bathroomWhen you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Dothan AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Dothan Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School 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 as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Dothan AL school you choose should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges 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 a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Dothan AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Dothan AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Dothan AL schools you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Dothan home, go to the college and monitor a few classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Dothan AL, confirm that those classes are offered. 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 Design College near Dothan Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Dothan AlabamaPicking the right interior design college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many things to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Dothan Alabama.