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How to Select the Best Interior Design College near Fort Payne Alabama

Fort Payne Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Fort Payne AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become 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 in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? Many prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking 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 available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Fort Payne AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially 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 Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Fort Payne AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new career in Fort Payne AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade required 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 the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things 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 mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically 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 colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Fort Payne AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. 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 only alternative 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 costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school must be within driving distance from your Fort Payne AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when securing 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 schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an excellent education, the Fort Payne AL school you select should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Fort Payne AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Fort Payne AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of support they offer. A number of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Fort Payne AL programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Fort Payne home, go to the college and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Fort Payne AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Fort Payne Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Fort Payne Interior Design Program

Selecting the ideal interior design program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several points to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fort Payne Alabama.