How to Find the Right Interior Design School Cedar Bluff Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Cedar Bluff AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Some future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Cedar Bluff AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Cedar Bluff AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training needed to begin your new career in Cedar Bluff AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Schools
For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Cedar Bluff AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain 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 environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs
When you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Cedar Bluff AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Cedar Bluff AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers become 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 program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an outstanding education, the Cedar Bluff AL program you select should also furnish the suitable training 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 College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a significant network of Cedar Bluff AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Cedar Bluff AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Cedar Bluff AL programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Cedar Bluff home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with some 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Cedar Bluff AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Cedar Bluff Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior designer school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many points to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cedar Bluff AL.