How to Choose the Right Interior Designer School Hartford Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Hartford AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you perform the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But just where do you begin? Some future students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account 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 alternatives are offered.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between them is the level 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 areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Hartford AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Hartford AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new profession in Hartford AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options 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 the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Classes
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Hartford AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you pick 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 learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Hartford AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program 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 exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Hartford AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program 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) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Hartford AL college you choose should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill 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 received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of Hartford AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Hartford AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Hartford AL programs you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Hartford home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Hartford AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm 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 Best Hartford Interior Design Program
Selecting the ideal interior design college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Hartford AL.