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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design School near Bay Minette Alabama

Bay Minette Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Bay Minette AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But where do you begin? A number of future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business 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 trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Bay Minette AL can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Bay Minette AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are four degree options available in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new career in Bay Minette AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as 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 pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate 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 a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such 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. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and use 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 professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Bay Minette AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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When you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Bay Minette AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Bay Minette AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require 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 some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Bay Minette AL program you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy 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 obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Bay Minette AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Bay Minette AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of support they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Bay Minette AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Bay Minette home, go to the school and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Bay Minette AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Best Bay Minette Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior designer college is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are several factors to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Bay Minette Alabama.