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How to Select the Best Interior Design Degree Program near Bay Minette Alabama

Bay Minette Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer 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 commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you obtain the right 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 may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Bay Minette AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal 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 hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Bay Minette AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new profession in Bay Minette AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such 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 programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally 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 degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Bay Minette AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

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After you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Bay Minette AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer college and program that you select 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). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial aid 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 schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Bay Minette AL school you choose should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Bay Minette AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Bay Minette AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Bay Minette AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Bay Minette home, go to the college and monitor a couple of 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 credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night 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, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Bay Minette Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Best Bay Minette Interior Design College

Picking the right interior design school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several points to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Bay Minette Alabama.