How to Pick the Right Interior Design School Piedmont Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Piedmont AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But where do you start? Some potential students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at 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 Design and Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main distinction between them 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 areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Piedmont AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of 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 looks as the primary consideration.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Piedmont AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training required to launch your new career in Piedmont AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets 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 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives 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 mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Schools
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Piedmont AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have hectic 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 schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you select is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Once you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Piedmont AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Piedmont AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Piedmont AL program you choose should also provide the proper instruction 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 College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a large network of Piedmont AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Piedmont AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they offer. A number of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Piedmont AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Piedmont home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and ask 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? Finally, confirm that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Piedmont AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Find the Best Piedmont Interior Design College
Picking the right interior design school is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance 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 ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Piedmont AL.