How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Livingston Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Livingston 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 interiors, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you do the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration also. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Livingston AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as 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 carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Livingston AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to begin your new profession in Livingston AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options 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 their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
In order 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 several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Colleges
For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Livingston AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional 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 highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Livingston AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Livingston AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Livingston AL program you select should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance 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 might also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Livingston AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Livingston AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Livingston AL colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Livingston home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Livingston AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Find the Right Livingston Interior Design Program
Choosing the ideal interior design college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Livingston AL.