How to Select the Right Interior Designer School Red Bay Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Red Bay AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But where do you start? A number of prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Red Bay AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Red Bay AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new profession in Red Bay AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives 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 degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Degree Programs
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Red Bay AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools 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 as well. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Red Bay AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. 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 gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Red Bay AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Red Bay AL school you select should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. 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 higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of Red Bay AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Red Bay AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Red Bay AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Red Bay home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design college you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Red Bay AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Red Bay Interior Design School
Choosing the right interior designer school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several points to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Red Bay AL.