How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer College Geneva Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Geneva AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But just where do you start? A number of potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools 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 reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Geneva AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often 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 specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus 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 must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Geneva AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new profession in Geneva AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed 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 level of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed 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 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Schools
For students who to study in the convenience of their Geneva AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire 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 confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Geneva AL home. 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 qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by 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 a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Geneva AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate 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 several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Geneva AL program you enroll in should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Geneva AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Geneva AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Geneva AL colleges you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Geneva home, go to the college and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Geneva AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Ideal Geneva Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior design college is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many factors to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly 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 Geneva AL.