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How to Select the Right Interior Designer School Lafayette Alabama

Lafayette Alabama elegant interior designed spacious bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Lafayette AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some 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 vital that you do the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? A number of future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training 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 functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Lafayette AL can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training required to start your new career in Lafayette AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be 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 covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 furnish advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Colleges

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Lafayette AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools

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After you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college has to be within driving distance from your Lafayette AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design college and program that you enroll in 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Lafayette AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get 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 school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Lafayette AL program you enroll in should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a substantial network of Lafayette AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Lafayette AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Lafayette AL programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Lafayette home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Lafayette AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Accredited Lafayette Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Best Lafayette Interior Design Program

Picking the right interior designer college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are several points to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Lafayette AL.