How to Find the Right Interior Design Program Blue Ridge Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program 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 interiors, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your final choice. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires 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 educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Blue Ridge AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Blue Ridge AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new profession in Blue Ridge AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required 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. 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 profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade 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 design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Degree Programs
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Blue Ridge AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Blue Ridge AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you choose 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive 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 college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Blue Ridge AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require 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 college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Blue Ridge AL program you choose should also furnish the proper 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Blue Ridge AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Blue Ridge AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior design programs offer financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Blue Ridge AL schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Blue Ridge home, visit the college and monitor a few 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 credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Blue Ridge AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Select the Ideal Blue Ridge Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Blue Ridge AL.