How to Select the Right Interior Designer Program Cowarts Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Cowarts AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But where do you start? A number of future students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Cowarts AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to 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 focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Cowarts AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new profession in Cowarts AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of 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 supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment 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 components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually 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 colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Classes
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Cowarts AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have busy 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 a number of students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication 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.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools
After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Cowarts AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Cowarts AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Cowarts AL college you select should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Cowarts AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Cowarts AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Cowarts AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Cowarts home, go to the campus 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 credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design college you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Cowarts AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Ideal Cowarts Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior design program is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are several points to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cowarts AL.