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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Phenix City AL

How to Select the Best Interior Design Course

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Phenix City AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you receive 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 may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you perform the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But where do you begin? A number of potential students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Phenix City AL

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The key difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Phenix City AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Phenix City Alabama interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new profession in Phenix City AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university 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", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Schools

Phenix City AL student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing to attend classes in the convenience of their Phenix City AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. 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.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges

Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Phenix City AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation 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 recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Phenix City Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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 in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Phenix City AL school you select should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges 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 an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Phenix City AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Phenix City AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Phenix City AL colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Phenix City home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Phenix City AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design School near Phenix City Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Phenix City AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior design program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are several things to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Phenix City Alabama.