How to Choose the Right Interior Design College Elberta Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Elberta AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But just where do you begin? Many future students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask 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 alternatives are offered.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Elberta AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to 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 wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Elberta AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new career in Elberta AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely 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.
In order to work professionally 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 professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Colleges
For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Elberta AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure 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 colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Elberta AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Elberta AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Elberta AL college you select should also furnish the proper education 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? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a significant network of Elberta AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Elberta AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of support they provide. Many of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Elberta AL schools you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Elberta home, go to the school and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Elberta AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Ideal Elberta Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior design program is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several things to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Elberta AL.