How to Choose the Right Interior Design School Alexandria Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Alexandria AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Some prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Alexandria AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. 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 may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Alexandria AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to launch your new profession in Alexandria AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have 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 required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical 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 job 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 improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Classes
For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Alexandria AL homes, there are online accredited 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 problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire 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 school may be the ideal alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Alexandria AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared 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 school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design program and school that you select 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). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just confirm 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Alexandria AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the School Prepare 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) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Alexandria AL program you choose should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Alexandria AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Alexandria AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Alexandria AL programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Alexandria home, go to the school and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Alexandria AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Ideal Alexandria Interior Design Program
Selecting the ideal interior design program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several things to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alexandria AL.