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How to Select the Right Interior Design Degree Program near Spanish Fort Alabama

Spanish Fort Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Spanish Fort 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 get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? Some potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Spanish Fort AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality 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 may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Spanish Fort AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new profession in Spanish Fort AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the comfort of their Spanish Fort AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Spanish Fort AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive 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 recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Spanish Fort AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become 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 several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Spanish Fort AL college you select should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet 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 earned your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a significant network of Spanish Fort AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Spanish Fort AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Spanish Fort AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Spanish Fort 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design program you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Spanish Fort AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Best Spanish Fort Interior Design School

Selecting the right interior designer school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many factors to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Spanish Fort Alabama.