How to Choose the Right Interior Design College Dauphin Island Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Dauphin Island AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But just where do you start? Some prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous 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 many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Dauphin Island AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Dauphin Island AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new career in Dauphin Island AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components 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 job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- 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 three to five years.
To work professionally 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 field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Schools
For students who to study in the convenience of their Dauphin Island AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes 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 home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Programs
After you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Dauphin Island AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to 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 school and program that you select has earned accreditation from 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Dauphin Island AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Dauphin Island AL college you choose should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet 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 earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a significant network of Dauphin Island AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Dauphin Island AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Dauphin Island AL schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Dauphin Island home, go to the college and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Dauphin Island AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Pick the Ideal Dauphin Island Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many factors to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. 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 right final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Dauphin Island AL.