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How to Choose the Best Interior Design School near Foley Alabama

Foley Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Foley 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 spaces, it's important that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But where do you begin? Many prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Foley AL may specialize in:

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

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

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new career in Foley AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the comfort of their Foley AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, 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 dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools

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After you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Foley AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 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 accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Foley AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several 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 college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Foley AL school you select should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Foley AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Foley AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they provide. A number of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Foley AL programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Foley home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Foley AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Best Foley Interior Design School

Picking the right interior design program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of points to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Foley Alabama.