How to Choose the Right Interior Designer School Marion Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Marion AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your skills 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 essential that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But just where do you start? Some potential students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary distinction between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Marion AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Marion AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training required to launch your new career in Marion AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be addressed 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 level of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Schools
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Marion AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only 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 reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Marion AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Marion AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require 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 college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Marion AL school you select should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a large network of Marion AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Marion AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Marion AL programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Marion home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with some 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? Finally, verify that the interior designer college you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Marion AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Right Marion Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior designer program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many things to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Marion AL.