How to Select the Right Interior Designer Program Heflin Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Heflin AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final choice. But just where do you start? Many future students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you should be asking 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 training choices are offered.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal difference between them is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general 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 educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Heflin AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Heflin AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training required to start your new profession in Heflin AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve 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 university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five 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, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Colleges
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Heflin AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools 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 reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Schools
After you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Heflin AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from 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 gone through a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. 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 assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Heflin AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Heflin AL school you select should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Heflin AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Heflin AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they provide. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Heflin AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Heflin home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design school you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Heflin AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Heflin Interior Design Program
Picking the right interior designer program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Heflin AL.