How to Select the Right Interior Designer School Ashford Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Ashford AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But just where do you begin? Many potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business 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 educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Ashford AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Ashford AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new career in Ashford AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions 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 technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Colleges
For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Ashford AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school 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 obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Ashford AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Ashford AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some 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 school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Ashford AL college you select should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing 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 undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. 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 field and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of Ashford AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Ashford AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Ashford AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Ashford home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Ashford AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Ashford Interior Design School
Picking the right interior design school is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many points to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Ashford AL.