How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Program Chatom Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Chatom AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Many prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Chatom AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Chatom AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new career in Chatom AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically 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 field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Classes
For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Chatom AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer 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. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, 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 learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Schools
When you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Chatom AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Chatom AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get 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 school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Chatom AL college you choose should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Chatom AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Chatom AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Chatom AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Chatom home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Chatom AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Pick the Right Chatom Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior design program is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Chatom AL.