How to Pick the Right Interior Design School Haleyville Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Haleyville AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you get the right training to put your skills 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 exam as well. So it's essential that you do the proper research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? A number of future students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous 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 some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Haleyville AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to 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 concepts, Haleyville AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new profession in Haleyville AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to 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 mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short 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 field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options 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 the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Degree Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Haleyville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, 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 learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
After you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Haleyville AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Haleyville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Haleyville AL program you choose should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out 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 graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Haleyville AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Haleyville AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of support they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Haleyville AL colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Haleyville 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 experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design college you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Haleyville AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Select the Right Haleyville Interior Design College
Picking the right interior design program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Haleyville AL.