How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Geneva Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Geneva AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But where do you start? Many potential students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main 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 spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Geneva AL may 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, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. 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 areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Geneva AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new profession in Geneva AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs 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 three to five years.
In order 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 field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Colleges
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Geneva AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting 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 reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Geneva AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Geneva AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Geneva AL program you enroll in should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with 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 undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Geneva AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Geneva AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Geneva AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Geneva home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Geneva AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Pick the Right Geneva Interior Design Program
Choosing the ideal interior design program is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Geneva AL.