How to Choose the Right Interior Design School Malvern Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Malvern AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at 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 available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key difference between them is the amount 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 spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Malvern AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Malvern AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new career in Malvern AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve 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 college or university level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
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, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Colleges
For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Malvern AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected 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 distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Malvern AL residence. Of course 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 expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design college and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. 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 gone through a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Malvern AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate 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 also. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Malvern AL college you choose should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Malvern AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Malvern AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Malvern AL colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Malvern home, visit the school and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design college you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Malvern AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Select the Ideal Malvern Interior Design Program
Selecting the right interior design school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many things to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Malvern AL.