How to Choose the Right Interior Design School Florala Alabama
Once you have decided 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 imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you do the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Many potential students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Florala AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Florala AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to start your new profession in Florala AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty 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 programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
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, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Schools
For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Florala AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn 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 structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs
When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Florala AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. 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 training are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Florala AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. So besides providing an excellent education, the Florala AL school you enroll in should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a large network of Florala AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Florala AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of support they provide. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Florala AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Florala home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Florala AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Florala Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior design college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Florala AL.