How to Find the Right Interior Design Degree Program Cottondale Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Cottondale 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 spaces, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But where do you begin? Many future students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those topics and other important 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 class alternatives are offered.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill 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 taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Cottondale AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically 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 specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Cottondale AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new profession in Cottondale AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade 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 supply advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral 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.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Degree Programs
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Cottondale AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed 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 practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. 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 right option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Cottondale AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Cottondale AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require 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, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Cottondale AL school you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Cottondale AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Cottondale AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of support they provide. A number of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in 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 counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Cottondale AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Cottondale home, visit the college and sit in on a few classes. While there talk 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Cottondale AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Pick the Right Cottondale Interior Design School
Choosing the right interior design school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many points to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cottondale AL.