How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Course Dauphin Island Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Dauphin Island AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? Many future students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess 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 a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Dauphin Island AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly 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 might focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must 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, Dauphin Island AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to start your new career in Dauphin Island AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make 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 covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business 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 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Colleges
For students who to study in the convenience of their Dauphin Island AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have hectic 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 a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
When you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Dauphin Island AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Dauphin Island AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get 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 requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Dauphin Island AL school you enroll in should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a significant network of Dauphin Island AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Dauphin Island AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior design programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide 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 attention from the teachers. Ask the Dauphin Island AL schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Dauphin Island home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Dauphin Island AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Pick the Best Dauphin Island Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior design school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of points to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Dauphin Island AL.