How to Pick the Right Interior Design School Lookout Mountain Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Lookout Mountain AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But where do you start? Some prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Lookout Mountain AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Lookout Mountain AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new profession in Lookout Mountain AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training 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 enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Classes
For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Lookout Mountain AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending 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 sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school 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 acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
After you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Lookout Mountain AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify 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 education are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Lookout Mountain AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Lookout Mountain AL college you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Lookout Mountain AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Lookout Mountain AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Lookout Mountain AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Lookout Mountain home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design program you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Lookout Mountain AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Pick the Ideal Lookout Mountain Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior design college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are several things to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Lookout Mountain AL.