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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Phenix City AL

How to Pick the Best Interior Designer School

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Phenix City AL, it's time to begin 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 obtain the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? A number of prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Phenix City AL

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

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus primarily 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 focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Phenix City Alabama interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to acquire the training required to launch your new career in Phenix City AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt 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) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade 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 two year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Designer Online Classes

Phenix City AL student attending interior design school onlineFor those who wish to study in the comfort of their Phenix City AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, 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 distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Phenix City AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional 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 gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Phenix City Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Phenix City AL school you enroll in should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements 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 designer certification, you will probably want some support 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 high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a substantial network of Phenix City AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Phenix City AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one 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 practical from your Phenix City home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Phenix City AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Design College near Phenix City Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Phenix City AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior designer school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are several things to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Phenix City Alabama.