How to Select the Right Interior Designer Program Cowarts Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Cowarts AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive 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 examination also. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But where do you start? Some potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other crucial 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 training options are offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business 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 educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Cowarts AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Cowarts AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new career in Cowarts AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve 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 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 degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Degree Programs
For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Cowarts AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges 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 decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, 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 learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Cowarts AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. 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 gone through a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm 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 education are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Cowarts AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require 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 program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an excellent education, the Cowarts AL college you choose should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam 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 received your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Cowarts AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Cowarts AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they offer. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Cowarts AL programs you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Cowarts home, go to the campus and monitor a few classes. While there speak with a few students and find out 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer program you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Cowarts 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, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Select the Best Cowarts Interior Design School
Selecting the ideal interior design college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many points to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cowarts AL.