How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School Owens Cross Roads Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Owens Cross Roads AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? Some future students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will address those topics 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 Decoration vs Interior Design
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up 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 new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Owens Cross Roads AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new profession in Owens Cross Roads AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs 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 technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Colleges
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Owens Cross Roads AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. 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 sole option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, 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 distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Owens Cross Roads AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer program and college that you select 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). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Owens Cross Roads AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Owens Cross Roads AL school you choose should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a large network of Owens Cross Roads AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Owens Cross Roads AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Owens Cross Roads AL colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Owens Cross Roads home, visit the college and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Owens Cross Roads AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Ideal Owens Cross Roads Interior Design Program
Picking the ideal interior designer program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Owens Cross Roads AL.