How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Program Clayton Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Clayton AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Some prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 offered.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Clayton AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Clayton AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new profession in Clayton AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select 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 addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Colleges
For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Clayton AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, 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 online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
When you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Clayton AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just verify 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 training are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Clayton AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require 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 several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Clayton AL school you select should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a substantial network of Clayton AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Clayton AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Clayton AL schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Clayton home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Clayton AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Pick the Right Clayton Interior Design Program
Picking the right interior design program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many things to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Clayton AL.