How to Pick the Right Interior Design College Centreville Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Centreville AL, it's time to start 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 natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you start? A number of future students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Centreville AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Centreville AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new profession in Centreville AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions 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 creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance 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 degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Colleges
For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Centreville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving 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 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 earn 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 confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools
Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Centreville AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house 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 program. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design school and program that you choose 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Centreville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate 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 some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Centreville AL college you enroll in should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Centreville AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Centreville AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? 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 Centreville AL schools you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Centreville home, visit the school and monitor a few classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Centreville AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Right Centreville Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior designer program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Centreville AL.