How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design School Leesburg Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design 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 commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? Some prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess 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 Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Leesburg AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Leesburg AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to start your new profession in Leesburg AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain 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 cover the creative and technical facets 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 two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Degree Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Leesburg AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, 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 distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Leesburg AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Leesburg AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require 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 mandating licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Leesburg AL program you choose should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Leesburg AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Leesburg AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from 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 school and attend a couple of 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 Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you enroll in 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 in the evening or on weekends near Leesburg AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Ideal Leesburg Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior designer school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Leesburg AL.