How to Choose the Right Interior Designer School Ashland Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Ashland AL, it's time to start the process of choosing 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 natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final selection. But where do you begin? Many potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking 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 Decoration vs Interior Design
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal difference between them 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 spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Ashland AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to 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 focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Ashland AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new profession in Ashland AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 supply advanced training in design after attaining a 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 improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees 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 typically completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Schools
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Ashland AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized 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 distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools
When you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Ashland AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Ashland AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become 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 program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Ashland AL college you select should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a large network of Ashland AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Ashland AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they provide. Many of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Ashland AL colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Ashland home, go to the college and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your active 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 Ashland AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Select the Right Ashland Interior Design College
Picking the right interior design program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges 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 Ashland AL.