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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Phenix City AL

How to Find the Right Interior Design Degree Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Phenix City AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you start? Some future students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Phenix City AL

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, 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 trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Phenix City AL can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Phenix City Alabama interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new career in Phenix City AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select 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 discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative 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 two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the 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 the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Online Interior Designer Colleges

Phenix City AL student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Phenix City AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

After you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Phenix City AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. 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 a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Phenix City Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get 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 college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Phenix City AL college you enroll in should also provide the appropriate 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 attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a sizable network of Phenix City AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Phenix City AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design programs provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is imperative 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 Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Phenix City AL colleges you are looking at what their average 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 some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Phenix City AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Right Interior Designer College near Phenix City Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Phenix City AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior designer program is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Phenix City Alabama.