How to Choose the Right Interior Design College Lookout Mountain Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Lookout Mountain AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? Many future students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary distinction between them 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 spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Lookout Mountain AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room 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 areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Lookout Mountain AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new career in Lookout Mountain AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits 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 field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential 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 design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such 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 largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ 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 require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Schools
For students who to study in the convenience of their Lookout Mountain AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
When you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school must be within driving distance from your Lookout Mountain AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Lookout Mountain AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep 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 mandating licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Lookout Mountain AL college you choose should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer 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 higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Lookout Mountain AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Lookout Mountain AL schools you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Lookout Mountain AL schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Lookout Mountain home, visit the campus and attend a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Lookout Mountain AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Select the Best Lookout Mountain Interior Design Program
Choosing the right interior design college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of points to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Lookout Mountain AL.