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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Dothan AL

How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school 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 spaces, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require 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 crucial that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But where do you begin? Some future students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you must ask 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 alternatives are offered.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Dothan AL

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Dothan AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Dothan Alabama interior designers implement 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 obtain the training needed to launch your new profession in Dothan AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make 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 some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate 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 choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

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.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

When you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Dothan AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking 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 factors that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns 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 pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential 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 respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 training are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Dothan Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools 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 in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Dothan AL program you select should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a significant network of Dothan AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Dothan AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of aid they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help 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 competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Dothan AL schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Dothan home, go to the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some 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? Last, make sure that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Dothan AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer College near Dothan Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Dothan AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior design college is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are many points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Dothan Alabama.