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How to Find the Right Interior Design Degree Program Fayette Alabama

Fayette Alabama beautiful interior designed bathroomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Fayette AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But just where do you start? Some prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should 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 before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training 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 living areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Fayette AL may specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Fayette AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Design Degrees

spacious Fayette Alabama interior designed living room

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new profession in Fayette AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral 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 usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Online Interior Design Degree Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Fayette AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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After you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Fayette AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Fayette AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become 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 college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Fayette AL program you choose should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a substantial network of Fayette AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Fayette AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Fayette AL schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Fayette home, visit the college and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design college you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Fayette AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Accredited Fayette Interior Design Courses

Select the Ideal Fayette Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior design school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still important that you perform 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 colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fayette AL.