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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Phenix City AL

How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design Degree Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program 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 residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? Some future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Phenix City AL

Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The primary difference between the two 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 areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Phenix City AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often focus 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 hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Phenix City Alabama interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to launch your new career in Phenix City AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate 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 acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire 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.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Phenix City Alabama interior designer bathroomOnce you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Phenix City AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their teachers 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 education are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Phenix City Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Phenix City AL college you select should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a significant network of Phenix City AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Phenix City AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of support they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Phenix City AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Phenix City home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Phenix City AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer College near Phenix City Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Phenix City AlabamaPicking the ideal interior design school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several points to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Phenix City Alabama.