How to Pick the Right Interior Designer School Owens Cross Roads Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Owens Cross Roads AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon 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 considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Some potential students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Owens Cross Roads AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- 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 example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Owens Cross Roads AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new profession in Owens Cross Roads AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated 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. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools 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 students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Owens Cross Roads AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting 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 also. Just be sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, 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 dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Owens Cross Roads AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone 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 college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when applying for 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 employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get 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 school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Owens Cross Roads AL college you enroll in should also furnish the proper 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 School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Owens Cross Roads AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Owens Cross Roads AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of support they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Owens Cross Roads AL colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Owens Cross Roads home, visit the college and monitor 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 credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Owens Cross Roads AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose the Best Owens Cross Roads Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior designer college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many points to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Owens Cross Roads AL.