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How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design School near Spanish Fort Alabama

Spanish Fort Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Spanish Fort AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you start? A number of future students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Spanish Fort AL can specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Spanish Fort AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new profession in Spanish Fort AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Spanish Fort AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, 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 online or distance education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

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When you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Spanish Fort AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your choices as well. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning 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 organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Spanish Fort AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Spanish Fort AL program you select should also furnish the suitable 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 School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a significant network of Spanish Fort AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Spanish Fort AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of support they provide. Many of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Spanish Fort AL schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Spanish Fort home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Spanish Fort AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Spanish Fort Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Right Spanish Fort Interior Design Program

Selecting the right interior designer school is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many factors to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Spanish Fort Alabama.