How to Pick the Right Interior Design Degree Program Eclectic Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Eclectic AL, it's time to start 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 proper training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Some potential students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will discuss 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 training options are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Eclectic AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently 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, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Eclectic AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new profession in Eclectic AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Colleges
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Eclectic AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn 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 Colleges
After you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Eclectic AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment 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 may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Eclectic AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Eclectic AL college you select should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination 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 design certification, you will probably want some help 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 an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a large network of Eclectic AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Eclectic AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of support they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Eclectic AL colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Eclectic home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Eclectic AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Find the Ideal Eclectic Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior designer school is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Eclectic AL.