How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Degree Program Alexandria Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Alexandria 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 interiors, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may 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 where do you begin? Some prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Alexandria AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Alexandria AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new career in Alexandria AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Classes
For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Alexandria AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Alexandria AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field 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 teachers and programs. Just confirm 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 training are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Alexandria AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require 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 college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Alexandria AL program you select should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out 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 sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Alexandria AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Alexandria AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Alexandria AL schools you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Alexandria home, visit the college and sit in on a few 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 Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Alexandria AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll 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.
Select the Ideal Alexandria Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior designer school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of things to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. 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 colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alexandria AL.