How to Select the Right Interior Design School Hartford Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Hartford 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 interiors, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate 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 proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Hartford AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality 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 focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Hartford AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new career in Hartford AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized 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. Doctoral 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 generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Degree Programs
For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Hartford AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, 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 online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Colleges
When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Hartford AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Hartford AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College 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 calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Hartford AL college you choose should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Hartford AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Hartford AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they provide. Many of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Hartford AL colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Hartford home, visit the campus 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 approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design college you enroll in 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 in the evening or on weekends near Hartford AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Ideal Hartford Interior Design College
Picking the right interior design school is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are a number of things to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Hartford AL.