How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Cedar Bluff Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Cedar Bluff AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you do the proper research in order to analyze 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 schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Cedar Bluff AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Cedar Bluff AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new career in Cedar Bluff AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required 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 provide the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. 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 employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty 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 programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Classes
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Cedar Bluff AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great option 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 programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a recognized 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 online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
After you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Cedar Bluff AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design school and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just make sure 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 requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Cedar Bluff AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Cedar Bluff AL school you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Cedar Bluff AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Cedar Bluff AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of aid they provide. A number of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Cedar Bluff AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Cedar Bluff home, visit the campus and sit in on a couple of 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Cedar Bluff AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Select the Ideal Cedar Bluff Interior Design Program
Selecting the right interior designer program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. 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 colleges 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.