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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 design college near Dothan AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But just where do you begin? A number of potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

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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 level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Dothan AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Dothan Alabama interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Training Programs

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new career in Dothan AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate 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 take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Degree Programs

Dothan AL student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Dothan AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a respected 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 online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Dothan AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. 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 an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Dothan Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several 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 college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Dothan AL college you choose should also provide the appropriate instruction 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 School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at 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 esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a significant network of Dothan AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Dothan AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of aid they provide. A number of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Dothan AL schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Dothan home, go to the college and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with a few 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Dothan AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Interior Designer College near Dothan Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Dothan AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior designer college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many points to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided 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 excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Dothan Alabama.