How to Select the Right Interior Design Degree Program Linden Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Linden AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But where do you start? Many prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Linden AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Linden AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training required to launch your new profession in Linden AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits 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 education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional 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 called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Colleges
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Linden AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative 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 some students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting 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 reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
When you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Linden 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 qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider 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 obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Linden AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prep 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 in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Linden AL program you enroll in should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Linden AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Linden AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of support they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Linden AL programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Linden home, visit the college and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Linden AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Right Linden Interior Design Program
Picking the ideal interior design college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several factors to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Linden AL.