How to Pick the Right Interior Design School Livingston Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Livingston AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? Many potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. 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 living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Livingston AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often 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, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Livingston AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new profession in Livingston AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed 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 amount of training required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical 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 two year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree 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", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Colleges
For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Livingston AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, 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 learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Schools
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Livingston AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer program and college that you choose 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 receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Livingston AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers become 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 program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Livingston AL school you choose should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy 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 obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Livingston AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Livingston AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of support they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Livingston AL colleges you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Livingston home, visit the college 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 approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Livingston AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Ideal Livingston Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior designer college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many points to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Livingston AL.