How to Choose the Right Interior Design School Newton Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Newton 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 get the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But just where do you begin? Many future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will address those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 Design compared to Interior Decoration
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Newton AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Newton AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new profession in Newton AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical 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 position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Schools
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Newton AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Newton AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Newton AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Newton AL college you select should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, 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 trade and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a large network of Newton AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Newton AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of aid they provide. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Newton AL colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Newton home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Newton AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Find the Right Newton Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior design program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several factors to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest 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 superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Newton AL.