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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Program La Fayette Alabama

La Fayette Alabama beautiful interior designed custom bathroomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near La Fayette AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you do the proper research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But just where do you start? A number of potential students will start their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will address those topics 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 cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business 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 a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in La Fayette AL may specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, La Fayette AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new profession in La Fayette AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select 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 covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized 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 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.

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

Interior Design Online Colleges

For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their La Fayette AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your La Fayette AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many La Fayette AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the La Fayette AL program you choose should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a substantial network of La Fayette AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the La Fayette AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the La Fayette AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your La Fayette home, go to the school and monitor a few 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 credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design program you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near La Fayette AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Top La Fayette Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best La Fayette Interior Design School

Choosing the ideal interior designer school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in La Fayette AL.