How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design School Clayton Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Clayton AL, it's time to start 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 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 preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But just where do you begin? Many potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. 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 before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Clayton AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Clayton AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new profession in Clayton AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide 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 a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions 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 technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential 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 acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Colleges
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Clayton AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Programs
When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Clayton AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design school and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. 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 undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. 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 college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Clayton AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several 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 program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Clayton AL school you select should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a sizable network of Clayton AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Clayton AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Clayton AL schools you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Clayton home, visit the college and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Clayton AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Clayton Interior Design Program
Picking the ideal interior design school is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many things to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Clayton AL.