How to Pick the Right Interior Designer School Point Clear Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Point Clear AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But just where do you begin? A number of potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking 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 alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between the two 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 spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Point Clear AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Point Clear AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new profession in Point Clear AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain 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 several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance 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 university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Classes
For students who to study in the comfort of their Point Clear AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be 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 earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs
Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Point Clear 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 narrow down your options also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Point Clear AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College 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) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Point Clear AL program you choose should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a sizable network of Point Clear AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Point Clear AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited college 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 offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Point Clear AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Point Clear home, visit the campus and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer program you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Point Clear AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Pick the Right Point Clear Interior Design School
Choosing the right interior designer program is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several points to consider before selecting a program, course 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 complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Point Clear AL.