How to Choose the Right Interior Design Degree Program Lake View Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Lake View AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But just where do you begin? Many future students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, 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
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Lake View AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Lake View AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new profession in Lake View AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required 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 furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ 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 degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Schools
For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Lake View AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain 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 structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs
After you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Lake View AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Lake View AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require 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 school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Lake View AL school you choose should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at 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 school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Lake View AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Lake View AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Lake View AL schools you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Lake View home, go to the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Lake View AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Lake View Interior Design Program
Selecting the ideal interior design program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Lake View AL.