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How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer Degree Program near Spanish Fort Alabama

Spanish Fort Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Spanish Fort AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But where do you begin? Many potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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

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

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They 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 incorporating Feng shui concepts, Spanish Fort AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new profession in Spanish Fort AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary 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 require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Spanish Fort AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic 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 some students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, 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 distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

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After you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Spanish Fort AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field 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 make sure 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 confirm 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 available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Spanish Fort AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Spanish Fort AL college you choose should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Spanish Fort AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Spanish Fort AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Spanish Fort AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Spanish Fort home, go to the campus and attend 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 styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design school you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Spanish Fort AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Spanish Fort Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Best Spanish Fort Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior design college is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several factors to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations 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 superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Spanish Fort Alabama.