How to Select the Right Interior Designer College New Union Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near New Union AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? Some future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration also. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, 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
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in New Union AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus primarily 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 focus more on functionality over appearance 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, furniture and acoustics. Designers have 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 principles, New Union AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new career in New Union AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select 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 covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain 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 degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Colleges
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their New Union AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, 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 learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools
When you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your New Union AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you select 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 establish that the reputation of the college 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 colleges. Also, a number of New Union AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the New Union AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a large network of New Union AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the New Union AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? 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 New Union AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your New Union home, go to the campus and attend 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 backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near New Union AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Select the Ideal New Union Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior design school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field 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 esteemed in the field. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in New Union AL.