How to Find the Right Interior Designer College Cedar Bluff Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Cedar Bluff 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 spaces, it's essential that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But just where do you start? Some potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Cedar Bluff AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, 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 integrating Feng shui concepts, Cedar Bluff AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training required to launch your new career in Cedar Bluff AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Schools
For students who to study in the comfort of their Cedar Bluff AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional 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 sure that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools
After you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your Cedar Bluff AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation 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 recognized accrediting organization. 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 securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Cedar Bluff AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become 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 several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Cedar Bluff AL school you select should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill 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 received your interior designer certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of Cedar Bluff AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Cedar Bluff AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Cedar Bluff AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Cedar Bluff home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Cedar Bluff AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Right Cedar Bluff Interior Design School
Choosing the right interior design college is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are several points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cedar Bluff AL.