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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Dothan AL

How to Pick the Right Interior Design Course

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Dothan AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But just where do you start? Many prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Dothan AL

Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The principal distinction between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, 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 and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Dothan AL can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Dothan Alabama interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new profession in Dothan AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects 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 supply advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Online Interior Designer Colleges

Dothan AL student attending interior design school onlineFor students who wish to study in the comfort of their Dothan AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Dothan AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. 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 gone through an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may 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 colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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 program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Dothan AL program you select should also furnish the appropriate instruction 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? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a substantial network of Dothan AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Dothan AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior design schools offer financial aid to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Dothan AL programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Dothan home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Dothan AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Interior Design College near Dothan Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Dothan AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior designer college is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Dothan Alabama.