How to Choose the Right Interior Design College Hartford Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Hartford AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you begin? A number of future students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. We will discuss those topics and other crucial 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 options are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration 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 skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Hartford AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate 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, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Hartford AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new career in Hartford AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide 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 lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Schools
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Hartford AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you pick is accredited by a recognized 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 discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Hartford AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just verify 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Hartford AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Hartford AL program you enroll in should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a significant network of Hartford AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Hartford AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller 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 Hartford AL programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Hartford home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few 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, verify that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Hartford AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Pick the Ideal Hartford Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior designer program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of points to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented 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 desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Hartford AL.