How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer College Loxley Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Loxley AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered also. We will cover 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas 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 room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Loxley AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new career in Loxley AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ 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", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Schools
For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Loxley AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. 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 option 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 study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs
Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Loxley AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you choose 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 receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Loxley AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become 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 college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an excellent education, the Loxley AL college you choose should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering 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 held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a substantial network of Loxley AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Loxley AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Loxley AL schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Loxley home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design college you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Loxley AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Select the Ideal Loxley Interior Design College
Choosing the right interior designer school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Loxley AL.