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How to Select the Best Interior Designer Degree Program near Foley Alabama

Foley Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Foley AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you do the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you begin? A number of potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. We will cover those topics and other vital 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 training alternatives are offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person 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 necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Foley AL can specialize in:

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

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Foley AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new profession in Foley AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt 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 required in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical 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 position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty 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 largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Foley AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you enroll in 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 discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing 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 are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design program and school that you select 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college 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 education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Foley AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get 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 calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Foley AL school you enroll in should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill 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 obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Foley AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Foley AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of support they offer. A number of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Foley AL programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Foley home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Foley AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Right Foley Interior Design Program

Picking the right interior design school is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review 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 Foley Alabama.