How to Select the Right Interior Design College Blue Ridge Alabama
Now that 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 talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Some future students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal distinction between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, 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 as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Blue Ridge AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Blue Ridge AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new career in Blue Ridge AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several 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 furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
In order 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, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Degree Programs
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Blue Ridge AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain 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 structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
When you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Blue Ridge AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. 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 assessment of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Blue Ridge AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Blue Ridge AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a large network of Blue Ridge AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Blue Ridge AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they offer. Many of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing 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 ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Blue Ridge AL programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Blue Ridge home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design college you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Blue Ridge AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Select the Best Blue Ridge Interior Design School
Choosing the right interior designer college is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Blue Ridge AL.