How to Select the Right Interior Design Degree Program Pine Level Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Pine Level AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? Some potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Pine Level AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Pine Level AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new profession in Pine Level AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Classes
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Pine Level AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs
When you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Pine Level AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Pine Level AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require 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 requiring licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Pine Level AL college you select should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Pine Level AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Pine Level AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Pine Level AL colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Pine Level home, visit the campus and attend a couple of 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Pine Level AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Pick the Right Pine Level Interior Design School
Choosing the ideal interior designer college is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pine Level AL.