How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design College Alexandria Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Alexandria AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? Many potential students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a decision, 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 issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main distinction between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Alexandria AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Alexandria AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new career in Alexandria AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions 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 facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance 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 college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Colleges
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Alexandria AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, 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 online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools
When you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Alexandria AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program 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 outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Alexandria AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Alexandria AL college you select should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Alexandria AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Alexandria AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Alexandria AL schools you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Alexandria home, go to the college 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 styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Alexandria AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Right Alexandria Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior design college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still important 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 evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alexandria AL.