How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design College Brookwood Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Brookwood AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Many prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those topics 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 alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business 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 taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Brookwood AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces 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 various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Brookwood AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new career in Brookwood AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced 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, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business needed 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 2 year programs supply advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Classes
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Brookwood AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic 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 many students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Programs
After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Brookwood AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. 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 excellent, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Brookwood AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Brookwood AL college you select should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a sizable network of Brookwood AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Brookwood AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Brookwood AL programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Brookwood home, visit the school 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 approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Brookwood AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Find the Ideal Brookwood Interior Design Program
Picking the ideal interior designer program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Brookwood AL.