How to Pick the Right Interior Designer College Level Plains Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Level Plains AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? Many prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors 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 issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 options are available.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living 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 Level Plains AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Level Plains AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new profession in Level Plains AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Degree Programs
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Level Plains AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Level Plains AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design school and program that you choose has been accredited by 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Level Plains AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several 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 some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Level Plains AL school you select should also furnish the proper instruction 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 School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a substantial network of Level Plains AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Level Plains AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Level Plains AL colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Level Plains home, visit the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Level Plains AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Right Level Plains Interior Design Program
Choosing the right interior designer program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several points to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Level Plains AL.