How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Course Cottonwood Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Cottonwood AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting 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 skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? A number of potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will address those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires 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 work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Cottonwood AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Cottonwood AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new profession in Cottonwood AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring 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 enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Schools
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Cottonwood AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great option 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 practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, 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 education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Programs
When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Cottonwood AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things 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 in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you select 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Cottonwood AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the Program 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 as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Cottonwood AL program you select should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a substantial network of Cottonwood AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Cottonwood AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of support they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Cottonwood AL colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Cottonwood home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Cottonwood AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Cottonwood Interior Design Program
Choosing the right interior design program is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of points to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cottonwood AL.