How to Pick the Right Interior Designer College Collinsville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Collinsville AL, it's time to start 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 several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? Many prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Collinsville AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently 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 specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to 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, Collinsville AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new profession in Collinsville AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose 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 mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Schools
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Collinsville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. 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 perfect option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Collinsville AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Collinsville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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 college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Collinsville AL school you select should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination 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? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Collinsville AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Collinsville AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Collinsville AL schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Collinsville home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with some 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? Last, verify that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Collinsville AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose the Ideal Collinsville Interior Design Program
Choosing the ideal interior designer school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Collinsville AL.