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How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer 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 talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? Some prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will cover 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 cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. 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 Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

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

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to start your new profession in Bay Minette AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required 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 schools. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Bay Minette AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for 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 schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program 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) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Bay Minette AL school you choose should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a significant network of Bay Minette AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Bay Minette AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Bay Minette AL programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Bay Minette home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Bay Minette AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Right Bay Minette Interior Design Program

Choosing the right interior designer school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Bay Minette Alabama.