How to Find the Right Interior Designer Degree Program 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 talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Some potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Collinsville AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Collinsville AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree options available in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new profession in Collinsville AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets 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 2 year programs supply advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Classes
For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Collinsville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design schools 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 study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a highly regarded 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 discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Colleges
When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Collinsville AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Collinsville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Collinsville AL school you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the college 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? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Collinsville AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one 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 typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Collinsville home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design college you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Collinsville AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Collinsville Interior Design Program
Selecting the ideal interior design college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain 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 college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Collinsville AL.