How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Program Headland Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Headland 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 imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? A number of potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Headland AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Headland AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new career in Headland AL. Your choice 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 no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 supply advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty 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. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Schools
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Headland AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Programs
Once you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Headland AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Headland AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
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 program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Headland AL college you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy 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 need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a large network of Headland AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Headland AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Headland AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Headland home, visit the campus and attend a few 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 Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design school you enroll in provides 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 Headland AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Ideal Headland Interior Design Program
Selecting the ideal interior designer school is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided 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 accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Headland AL.