How to Select the Right Interior Design Program Bridgeport Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Bridgeport AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered also. We will discuss those topics and other important 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 training choices are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Bridgeport AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often 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 instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Bridgeport AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new profession in Bridgeport AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many 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 supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally 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 field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Classes
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Bridgeport AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools
When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Bridgeport AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence 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. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Bridgeport AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several 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 several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Bridgeport AL school you enroll in should also furnish the proper education 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 College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges 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 highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Bridgeport AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Bridgeport AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Bridgeport AL schools you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Bridgeport home, go to the college and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Bridgeport AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Best Bridgeport Interior Design Program
Choosing the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many points to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Bridgeport AL.