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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Dothan AL

How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Course

Now that you have decided 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 gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your talents 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 crucial that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you begin? Many potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Dothan AL

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working 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 educated to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Dothan AL can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Dothan Alabama interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
 

Interior Designer Training Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new profession in Dothan AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt 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 required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Online Interior Designer Degree Programs

Dothan AL student attending interior design school onlineFor those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Dothan AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Colleges

Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Dothan AL residence. Of course 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 expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Dothan Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become 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 mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Dothan AL school you select should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Dothan AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Dothan AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting 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 offer more generous financial assistance.

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 schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Dothan home, visit the school and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially 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, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design College near Dothan Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Dothan AlabamaPicking the right interior designer program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of points 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 regarded in the profession. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Dothan Alabama.