How to Choose the Right Interior Design School Elmore Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Elmore 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 interiors, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at 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 alternatives are offered.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Elmore AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate predominantly 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 concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as 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 picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Elmore AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new career in Elmore AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation 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 needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide 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 degree 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 training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Degree Programs
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Elmore AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. 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 schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, 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 online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Elmore AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Elmore AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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 as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Elmore AL school you select should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a large network of Elmore AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Elmore AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Elmore AL colleges you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Elmore home, go to the school and attend a few classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Elmore AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Elmore Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior design program is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Elmore AL.