How to Select the Right Interior Designer College Owens Cross Roads Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Owens Cross Roads AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you begin? Some potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent 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 trained to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Owens Cross Roads AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. 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 can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces 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 various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Owens Cross Roads AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new profession in Owens Cross Roads AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Colleges
For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Owens Cross Roads AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you select is accredited by a recognized 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 distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Owens Cross Roads AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous 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 education are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Owens Cross Roads AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require 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 mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Owens Cross Roads AL school you enroll in should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a large network of Owens Cross Roads AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Owens Cross Roads AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Owens Cross Roads AL colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Owens Cross Roads home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Owens Cross Roads AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Pick the Ideal Owens Cross Roads Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of things to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs 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 Owens Cross Roads AL.