How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Mount Vernon Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Mount Vernon AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs 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 should be considered also. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates 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 living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Mount Vernon AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Mount Vernon AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new career in Mount Vernon AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be discussed 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 furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Degree Programs
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Mount Vernon AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain 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 setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Mount Vernon AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Mount Vernon AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Mount Vernon AL program you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a large network of Mount Vernon AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Mount Vernon AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Mount Vernon AL programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Mount Vernon home, go to the campus 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 approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer school you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Mount Vernon AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Select the Right Mount Vernon Interior Design Program
Picking the right interior designer program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are several points to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Mount Vernon AL.