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How to Choose the Best Interior Designer College near Foley Alabama

Foley Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Foley AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Many future students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal distinction between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Foley AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to 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 may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Foley AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to start your new career in Foley AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt 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) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Foley AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a respected 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 online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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After you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Foley AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Foley AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require 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 mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Foley AL school you choose should also furnish the proper instruction 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? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Foley AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Foley AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is essential 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 aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Foley AL colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Foley home, visit the school and attend a few classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Foley AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Foley Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Best Foley Interior Design School

Selecting the ideal interior design college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several points to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Foley Alabama.