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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Dothan AL

How to Find the Right Interior Design College

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Dothan AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Dothan AL

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. 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 skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous 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 spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Dothan AL can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degree Options

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new profession in Dothan AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment 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 components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential 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 training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Online Interior Design Degree Programs

Dothan AL student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Dothan AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs 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 environment, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

After you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Dothan AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program 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 education are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Dothan Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Dothan AL school you enroll in should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out 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 students are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a large network of Dothan AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Dothan AL schools you are evaluating and find out what type of support they provide. A number of interior design programs offer financial aid to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Dothan AL colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Dothan home, go to the school and monitor 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 styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer college you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Dothan AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design College near Dothan Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Dothan AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior design school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several points to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Dothan Alabama.