How to Find the Right Interior Design Program Ardmore Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Ardmore AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? A number of future students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other vital 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 training alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal distinction 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 spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Ardmore AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For 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 numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Ardmore AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new career in Ardmore AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt 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) examination required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such 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 desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Classes
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Ardmore AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs
Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Ardmore AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Ardmore AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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 school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Ardmore AL school you select should also provide the proper instruction 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 School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a substantial network of Ardmore AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Ardmore AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Ardmore AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Ardmore home, visit the school and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Ardmore AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Select the Right Ardmore Interior Design College
Picking the right interior designer school is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Ardmore AL.