How to Choose the Right Interior Design School Leesburg Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Leesburg AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you perform the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking 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 Design and Interior Decoration
Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Leesburg AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate 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 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 selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Leesburg AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new career in Leesburg AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver 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 minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Schools
For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Leesburg AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be 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 earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Schools
When you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Leesburg AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Leesburg AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as 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 also. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Leesburg AL program you select should also furnish the appropriate instruction 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 College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Leesburg AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Leesburg AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of aid they provide. A number of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Leesburg AL schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Leesburg home, go to the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out 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 Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Leesburg AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Leesburg Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior designer college is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many things to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Leesburg AL.