How to Find the Right Interior Design Program Heflin Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Heflin AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you do the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are considering before you make your final choice. But exactly where do you start? Many prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will cover 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad 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 room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Heflin AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new career in Heflin AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required 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. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and use 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 required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Schools
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Heflin AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain 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 Design Schools
After you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Heflin AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Heflin AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare 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) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Heflin AL school you select should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Heflin AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Heflin AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Heflin AL colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Heflin home, go to the campus and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Heflin AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Select the Best Heflin Interior Design Program
Choosing the right interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. 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 properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Heflin AL.