How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Degree Program Ragland Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Ragland AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are considering before you make your final selection. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Ragland AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of 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 appearance as the main concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Ragland AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training required to launch your new profession in Ragland AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals 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, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Degree Programs
For students who to study in the convenience of their Ragland AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only 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 commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, 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 discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges
After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Ragland AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the least expensive school 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, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and school 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 receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding 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 college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Ragland AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate 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 several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Ragland AL school you enroll in should also provide the suitable education 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 College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at 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 college 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 large network of Ragland AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Ragland AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Ragland AL colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Ragland home, go to the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Ragland AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Pick the Right Ragland Interior Design Program
Picking the ideal interior designer school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many factors to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Ragland AL.