How to Choose the Right Interior Designer School Lafayette Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Lafayette AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you perform the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you start? A number of future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will cover 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 class alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Lafayette AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Lafayette AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new career in Lafayette AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment 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 technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree 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 design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Schools
For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Lafayette AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes 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 attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you pick 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 online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Programs
After you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Lafayette AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer program and school that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Lafayette AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Lafayette AL school you choose should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Lafayette AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Lafayette AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of support they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
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 Lafayette AL schools you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Lafayette home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. While there 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer school you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Lafayette AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Lafayette Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior designer school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Lafayette AL.