How to Select the Right Interior Design College Falkville Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Falkville AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But where do you begin? Many future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will cover those issues and other crucial 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 training choices are offered.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Falkville AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Falkville AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new profession in Falkville AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of 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) examination mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student 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 attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Classes
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Falkville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
When you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Falkville AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Falkville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Falkville AL college you choose should also provide the proper education 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 obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a large network of Falkville AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Falkville AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Falkville AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Falkville home, go to the college and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design college you enroll in offers 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 Falkville AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Ideal Falkville Interior Design College
Choosing the right interior design school is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several things to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Falkville AL.