How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Point Clear Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Point Clear AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? A number of future students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered also. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Point Clear AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Point Clear AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new career in Point Clear AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business 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 provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such 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. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Classes
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Point Clear AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. 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 ideal alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools
When you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Point Clear AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design school and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional 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 undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Point Clear AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Point Clear AL program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of Point Clear AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Point Clear AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Point Clear AL programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Point Clear home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer school you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Point Clear AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Choose the Right Point Clear Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior design college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have decided on. 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, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Point Clear AL.