How to Choose the Right Interior Design Program Ashford Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Ashford AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are considering before you make your final choice. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration also. We will address those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 options are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill 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 Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Ashford AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must 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 selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Ashford AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new career in Ashford AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly 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 supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Classes
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Ashford AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying 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 attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the only option 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 costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Ashford AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you select 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Ashford AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate 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 calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Ashford AL school you select should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of Ashford AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Ashford AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Ashford AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Ashford home, visit the college and attend a few classes. While there talk with some 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Ashford AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Ideal Ashford Interior Design Program
Selecting the right interior design program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Ashford AL.