How to Choose the Right Interior Design School Harpersville Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Harpersville AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? Some prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in 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 alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Harpersville AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Harpersville AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new career in Harpersville AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business needed 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 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance 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 college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Colleges
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Harpersville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you pick is accredited by a respected 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 online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools
When you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Harpersville AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Harpersville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some 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 school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Harpersville AL school you choose should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Harpersville AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Harpersville AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Harpersville AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Harpersville home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of 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 credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Harpersville AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Ideal Harpersville Interior Design College
Choosing the right interior designer program is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many points to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Harpersville AL.