How to Choose the Right Interior Designer College Childersburg Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Childersburg AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you start? A number of potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other important questions that you must ask 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 training alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Childersburg AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Childersburg AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new career in Childersburg AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select 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 addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs 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 components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 supply advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options 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. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who desire 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 as a professional and use 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 called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Classes
For students who to study in the convenience of their Childersburg AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Childersburg AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Childersburg AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require 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 mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Childersburg AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high 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 could also indicate that the college has a large network of Childersburg AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Childersburg AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of support they provide. A number of interior design programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Childersburg AL programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Childersburg home, visit the school and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design college you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Childersburg AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Pick the Right Childersburg Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior design college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several factors to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Childersburg AL.