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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer College near Fort Payne Alabama

Fort Payne Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Fort Payne AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you begin? A number of prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design schools 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 sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics 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 training alternatives are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Fort Payne AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need 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, Fort Payne AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training required to launch your new career in Fort Payne AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance 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 as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Fort Payne AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Fort Payne AL home. Of course 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 expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining 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 agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Fort Payne AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an excellent education, the Fort Payne AL program you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a substantial network of Fort Payne AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Fort Payne AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Fort Payne AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Fort Payne home, go to the college and sit in on a few classes. While there 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fort Payne AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Fort Payne Interior Design College

Picking the right interior design college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many factors to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fort Payne Alabama.