How to Find the Right Interior Design Program Owens Cross Roads Alabama
Once 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 commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Many future students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will address 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 cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires 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 taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Owens Cross Roads AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including 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 including Feng shui concepts, Owens Cross Roads AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to begin your new profession in Owens Cross Roads AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Degree Programs
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Owens Cross Roads AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. 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 accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs
When you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Owens Cross Roads AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your options also. But selecting 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 factors that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Owens Cross Roads AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become 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 several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Owens Cross Roads AL college you select should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask 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 could also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Owens Cross Roads AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Owens Cross Roads AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate 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 programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Owens Cross Roads home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant 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, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check 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 Program
Choosing the ideal interior designer school is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are many things to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Owens Cross Roads AL.