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How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Program near Bay Minette Alabama

Bay Minette Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Bay Minette AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But where do you start? A number of potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Bay Minette AL can specialize in:

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

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Bay Minette AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new profession in Bay Minette AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Bay Minette AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you select is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire 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 confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Bay Minette AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Bay Minette AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Bay Minette AL program you enroll in should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination 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 earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a significant network of Bay Minette AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Bay Minette AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Bay Minette AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Bay Minette home, go to the campus and attend a few 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 credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Bay Minette AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Best Bay Minette Interior Design Program

Picking the ideal interior design college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Bay Minette Alabama.