How to Choose the Right Interior Design Degree Program Ragland Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Ragland AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal difference between them is the amount of education 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 necessitates 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 educated to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Ragland AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. 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, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus 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 focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Ragland AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new career in Ragland AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take 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. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options 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 degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Colleges
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Ragland AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Ragland AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify 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 excellent, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Ragland AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become 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 calling for licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an excellent education, the Ragland AL program you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students 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 Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Ragland AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they provide. A number of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Ragland AL programs you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Ragland home, go to the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and ask 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer school you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy 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 Ragland AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Ragland Interior Design Program
Selecting the ideal interior design school is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several points to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Ragland AL.