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How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design College near Fort Payne Alabama

Fort Payne Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Fort Payne AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering before you make your final selection. But just where do you start? Many prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered also. We will discuss those issues and other important 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 training choices are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Fort Payne AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, 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 looks as the primary concern.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Fort Payne AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training required to start your new career in Fort Payne AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options 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 primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Fort Payne AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed 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 many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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After you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Fort Payne AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Fort Payne AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of 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 college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Fort Payne AL school you enroll in should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill 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 design certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Fort Payne AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Fort Payne AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Fort Payne AL programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Fort Payne home, visit the college and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Fort Payne AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Best Fort Payne Interior Design School

Choosing the right interior designer program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several things to think about 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. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fort Payne Alabama.