How to Select the Right Interior Design Program New Union Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near New Union AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? Many prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you must ask 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 offered.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business 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 educated to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in New Union AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, New Union AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new profession in New Union AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose 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 short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets 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 position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Colleges
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their New Union AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive 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 confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs
Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your New Union AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of New Union AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several 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, two or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the New Union AL college you enroll in should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a significant network of New Union AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the New Union AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the New Union AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your New Union home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near New Union AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Right New Union Interior Design Program
Choosing the right interior design program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in New Union AL.