How to Select the Right Interior Design College Elba Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Elba 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 imperative that you get the right training to put your natural abilities 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 exam also. So it's essential that you do the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But where do you start? Some prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Elba AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Elba AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new profession in Elba AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced 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 opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential 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 a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Degree Programs
For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Elba AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design programs 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 commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools
Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Elba AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design school and program that you enroll in 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Elba AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Elba AL program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a significant network of Elba AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Elba AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small 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 Elba AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Elba home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to 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 designer school you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Elba AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Pick the Right Elba Interior Design College
Picking the right interior designer college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many factors to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Elba AL.