How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Program Falkville Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Falkville 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 important that you obtain the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you begin? Many future students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables 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 discuss those topics and other vital 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 options are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key difference between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Falkville AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Falkville AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new career in Falkville AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance 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 degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Schools
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Falkville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Falkville AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Falkville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become 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 program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Falkville AL school you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Falkville AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Falkville AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small 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 Falkville AL colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Falkville home, go to the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Falkville AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Select the Ideal Falkville Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior designer college is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are several factors to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Falkville AL.