How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Florala Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Florala AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final choice. But where do you begin? Many prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education 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 living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Florala AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. 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 integrating Feng shui principles, Florala AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new profession in Florala AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount 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 obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order 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, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Colleges
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Florala AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you choose 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 online or distance education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school must be within driving distance from your Florala AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. 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 address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Florala AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some 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 several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Florala AL college you enroll in should also provide the suitable 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 School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Florala AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Florala AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Florala AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Florala home, visit the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Florala AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Select the Ideal Florala Interior Design School
Choosing the right interior designer college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Florala AL.