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How to Choose the Best Interior Design Degree Program near Fort Payne Alabama

Fort Payne Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Fort Payne AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you begin? Some prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at 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 available.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Fort Payne AL can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example 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 carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Fort Payne AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to start your new profession in Fort Payne AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation 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 needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs 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 components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

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

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Fort Payne AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great 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 home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college 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 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 confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

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When you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Fort Payne AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order 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 choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry 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 programs and teachers. Just confirm 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Fort Payne AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some 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 school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Fort Payne AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Fort Payne AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Fort Payne AL schools you are evaluating and find out what type of support they provide. A number of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Fort Payne AL colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Fort Payne home, go to the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Fort Payne AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Best Fort Payne Interior Design College

Choosing the right interior design program is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many things to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fort Payne Alabama.