How to Choose the Right Interior Design Degree Program Mount Vernon Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Mount Vernon AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final selection. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Mount Vernon AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Mount Vernon AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new career in Mount Vernon AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Colleges
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Mount Vernon AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the only option 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 expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you select is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Mount Vernon AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Mount Vernon 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 get 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 program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Mount Vernon AL school you choose should also provide the proper 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? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Mount Vernon AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Mount Vernon AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Mount Vernon AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Mount Vernon home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Mount Vernon AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Mount Vernon Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Mount Vernon AL.