How to Pick the Right Interior Designer College Midland City Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Midland City AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate 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 do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But just where do you begin? Many prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other vital 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 offered.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main difference between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of 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 areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Midland City AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality 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 might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. 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 incorporating Feng shui principles, Midland City AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to start your new profession in Midland City AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as 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 certain 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 benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at many 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 deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree 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 design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Schools
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Midland City AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good 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 laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be 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 schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools
Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Midland City AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your choices as well. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer program and college 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). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Midland City AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate 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 occupational experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Midland City AL program you select should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with 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 earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Midland City AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Midland City AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Midland City AL colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Midland City home, visit the campus and monitor a few classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Midland City AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Pick the Ideal Midland City Interior Design Program
Choosing the ideal interior design school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are several things to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Midland City AL.