How to Choose the Right Interior Design College Chatom Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Chatom AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But where do you start? Many potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 Design compared to Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Chatom AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms 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 many 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 produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Chatom AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new career in Chatom AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business needed 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 two year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining 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 mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Classes
For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Chatom AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire 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 setting, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Schools
When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your Chatom AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you choose 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 an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Chatom AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Chatom AL college you select should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at 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 college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Chatom AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Chatom AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Chatom AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Chatom home, visit the college and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Chatom AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Ideal Chatom Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior design college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many points to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Chatom AL.