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How to Pick the Best Interior Designer School near Foley Alabama

Foley Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Foley AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you start? Many future students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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

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

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Foley AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new career in Foley AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four 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 lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Foley AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good 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 home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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After you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Foley AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Foley AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Foley AL school you choose should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained 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 a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Foley AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Foley AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Foley AL colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Foley home, go to the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some 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 Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Foley AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Best Foley Interior Design Program

Picking the right interior designer school is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded 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 presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Foley Alabama.