How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Elmore Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Elmore AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you start? A number of prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting 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 spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Elmore AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Elmore AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new profession in Elmore AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Colleges
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Elmore AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Elmore AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Elmore 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 get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Elmore AL school you select should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Elmore AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Elmore AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Elmore AL programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Elmore home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Elmore AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Ideal Elmore Interior Design Program
Selecting the right interior design program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Elmore AL.