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

Bay Minette Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Bay Minette AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you do the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you begin? Some potential students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask 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 offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires 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 living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Bay Minette AL can specialize in:

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

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, 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 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to launch your new profession in Bay Minette AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose 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 mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply 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 lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally 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 field experience may be needed before an applicant 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 accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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When you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Bay Minette AL home. Naturally 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 expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design program and college that you enroll in 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 an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just confirm 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 college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Bay Minette AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get 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 school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Bay Minette AL school you enroll in should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Bay Minette AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Bay Minette AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? 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 Bay Minette AL programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Bay Minette home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Bay Minette AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Bay Minette Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Right Bay Minette Interior Design Program

Picking the right interior designer school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Bay Minette Alabama.