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How to Select the Best Interior Design College near Bay Minette Alabama

Bay Minette Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Bay Minette AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some 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 crucial that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Bay Minette AL may specialize in:

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

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Bay Minette AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new career in Bay Minette AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices 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. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Bay Minette AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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When you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Bay Minette AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the cheapest school 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, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Bay Minette AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program 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) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Bay Minette AL program you select should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements 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 want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of Bay Minette AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Bay Minette AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of support they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Bay Minette AL programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Bay Minette home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer program you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Bay Minette AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Courses

Enroll in the Right Bay Minette Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior design school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are a number of things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still imperative that you conduct 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 schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Bay Minette Alabama.