How to Select the Right Interior Design College Aliceville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Aliceville AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you start? A number of prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at 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 alternatives are offered.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Aliceville AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Aliceville AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new career in Aliceville AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take 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 brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are normally 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 degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Colleges
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Aliceville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a highly regarded 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 distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Programs
When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Aliceville AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just verify 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 college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Aliceville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate 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 several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Aliceville AL college you enroll in should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance 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 held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Aliceville AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Aliceville AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of support they provide. A number of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Aliceville AL colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Aliceville home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Aliceville AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Right Aliceville Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior design school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools 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 Aliceville AL.