How to Choose the Right Interior Design College Blountsville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Blountsville 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 spaces, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your talents 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 examination also. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask 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 alternatives are offered.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Blountsville AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers 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 including Feng shui concepts, Blountsville AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training required to launch your new career in Blountsville AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain 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 deal with the creative and technical facets of the business required 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 training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Schools
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Blountsville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed 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 a number of students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Blountsville AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Blountsville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Blountsville AL college you enroll in should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a large network of Blountsville AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Blountsville AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Blountsville AL schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Blountsville home, visit the college and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Blountsville AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Pick the Ideal Blountsville Interior Design Program
Picking the right interior design program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Blountsville AL.