How to Choose the Right Interior Design Program Loxley Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Loxley AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you start? A number of potential students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered also. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires formal training 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 spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Loxley AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often focus predominantly 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 stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Loxley AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training required to start your new profession in Loxley AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically 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 facets 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 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives 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 the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Schools
For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Loxley AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, 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 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 perfect option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Once you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Loxley AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Loxley 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 require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Loxley AL school you select should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with 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 assistance in finding your first job. 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 regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a significant network of Loxley AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Loxley AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Loxley AL schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Loxley home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Loxley AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Loxley Interior Design Program
Choosing the ideal interior designer college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Loxley AL.