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How to Select the Best Interior Design College 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 begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the right training to put your skills 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 examination as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Some future students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Spanish Fort AL may specialize in:

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

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Spanish Fort AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to begin your new profession in Spanish Fort AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential 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 design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Spanish Fort AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. 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 attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, 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 earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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After you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Spanish Fort AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. 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 education are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Spanish Fort AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate 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 school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Spanish Fort AL college you enroll in should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering 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 graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the college 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 Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Spanish Fort AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Spanish Fort AL programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Spanish Fort home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Spanish Fort AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Best Spanish Fort Interior Design College

Choosing the ideal interior designer program is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Spanish Fort Alabama.