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How to Pick the Right Interior Designer College Dauphin Island Alabama

Dauphin Island Alabama luxury interior designed bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Dauphin Island AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you begin? Some future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Dauphin Island AL can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Dauphin Island AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new career in Dauphin Island AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require 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 examination.

Interior Design Online Classes

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Dauphin Island AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you select is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Dauphin Island AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer college and program that you select 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Dauphin Island AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get 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 calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Dauphin Island AL college you choose should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a substantial network of Dauphin Island AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Dauphin Island AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Dauphin Island AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Dauphin Island home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with a few 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Dauphin Island AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Top Dauphin Island Interior Design Colleges

Choose the Best Dauphin Island Interior Design College

Choosing the ideal interior designer school is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Dauphin Island AL.