How to Find the Right Interior Designer Program Redland Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Redland AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Many future students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 options are offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Redland AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Redland AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new career in Redland AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized 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 programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Classes
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Redland AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are working 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 many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded 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 online or distance education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Redland AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine 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 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education 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 Redland AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Redland AL school you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Redland AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Redland AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college 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 personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Redland AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Redland home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with some 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? Last, make sure that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Redland AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Redland Interior Design College
Picking the right interior design college is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many points to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Redland AL.