How to Select the Right Interior Design Course Citronelle Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Citronelle AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are considering before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? A number of potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 offered.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main distinction between them 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 educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Citronelle AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Citronelle AL interior designers utilize a wide range 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 needed to launch your new profession in Citronelle AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of 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) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education needed 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 usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Schools
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Citronelle AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs
When you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Citronelle AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Citronelle AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Citronelle AL college you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a sizable network of Citronelle AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Citronelle AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Citronelle AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Citronelle home, visit the campus and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Citronelle AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm 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.
Pick the Ideal Citronelle Interior Design Program
Selecting the ideal interior design college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several points to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Citronelle AL.