How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer College Headland Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Headland AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are considering before you make your final decision. But just where do you begin? Many prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Headland AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Headland AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new career in Headland AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade required 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 two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Colleges
For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Headland AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. 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 alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
When you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Headland AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Headland AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Headland AL program 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 employed.
What is the Program'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 schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a large network of Headland AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Headland AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Headland AL schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Headland home, visit the campus and attend 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 philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer school you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Headland AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Select the Ideal Headland Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior designer college is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Headland AL.