How to Find the Right Interior Designer Program Ashville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Ashville AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? Many prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those topics 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 cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Ashville AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Ashville AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new profession in Ashville AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following 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 complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices 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 wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Degree Programs
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Ashville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. 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 colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Schools
After you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Ashville AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design program and school that you select has been accredited by 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through 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 school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Ashville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require 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 mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Ashville AL school you choose should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of Ashville AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Ashville AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Ashville AL programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Ashville home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Ashville AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Choose the Best Ashville Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior designer school is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Ashville AL.