How to Choose the Right Interior Design Degree Program Elberta Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Elberta AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But where do you start? Some potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Elberta AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Elberta AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new profession in Elberta AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide 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) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover 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 obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and use 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 needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Schools
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Elberta AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Elberta AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining 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 might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Elberta AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Elberta AL school you select should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a substantial network of Elberta AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Elberta AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors 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 attention from the teachers. Ask the Elberta AL programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Elberta home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design college you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Elberta AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Best Elberta Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior design program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. 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 ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Elberta AL.