Home >> Alabama >> Dothan >> Interior Design Schools Online


Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Dothan AL

How to Select the Right Interior Designer College

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Dothan AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But where do you begin? Some future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. We will discuss 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.

Start Your Interior Design Career By Requesting Free Info on Local Schools Below

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Dothan AL

Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The key distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Dothan AL may specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Dothan Alabama interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
 

Interior Design Training Programs

There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training required to launch your new career in Dothan AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced 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 sure to choose 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 benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Schools

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 degrees. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs

When you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Dothan AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following 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 in order to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm 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 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 make sure 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 college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Dothan Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Dothan AL program you enroll in should also furnish the proper training 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 received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a large network of Dothan AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Dothan AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Dothan AL colleges you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Dothan home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with a few 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? Finally, verify that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will 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 offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design School near Dothan Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Dothan AlabamaSelecting the right interior designer school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are many factors to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Dothan Alabama.