How to Pick the Right Interior Design Course Blue Ridge Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Blue Ridge AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 options are offered.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between them is the level 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 spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Blue Ridge AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal 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 banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Blue Ridge AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new profession in Blue Ridge AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make 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 some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily 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.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Classes
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Blue Ridge AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient 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 additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you select is accredited by a recognized 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 learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Programs
When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Blue Ridge AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design school and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national 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 an extensive 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Blue Ridge AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Blue Ridge AL program you select should also furnish the suitable instruction 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 College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a significant network of Blue Ridge AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Blue Ridge AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Blue Ridge AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Blue Ridge home, visit the college and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and ask 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Blue Ridge AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose the Ideal Blue Ridge Interior Design College
Picking the right interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several factors to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Blue Ridge AL.