How to Choose the Right Interior Design School Lookout Mountain Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Lookout Mountain AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you start? Some prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking 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 options are offered.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing 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 educated to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Lookout Mountain AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate primarily 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 focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Lookout Mountain AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new profession in Lookout Mountain AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose 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) examination required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized 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 programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Degree Programs
For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Lookout Mountain AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Lookout Mountain AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer school and program 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 receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 training are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Lookout Mountain AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Lookout Mountain AL program you select should also furnish the proper training 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Lookout Mountain AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Lookout Mountain AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of support they offer. Many of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Lookout Mountain AL colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Lookout Mountain home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Lookout Mountain AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Select the Right Lookout Mountain Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several points to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Lookout Mountain AL.