How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School Moundville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Moundville AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your final choice. But where do you begin? Some potential students will kick off 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 decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues 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 training choices are available.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Moundville AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Moundville AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new profession in Moundville AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to devote to 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 several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community 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 minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Schools
For students who to study in the comfort of their Moundville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn 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 setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school must be within driving distance from your Moundville AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Moundville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Ready 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) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Moundville AL college you choose should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a significant network of Moundville AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Moundville AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Moundville AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Moundville home, visit the school and sit in on 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 philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Moundville AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Moundville Interior Design College
Picking the right interior design college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are several points to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Moundville AL.