How to Select the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Redland Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Redland AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But where do you begin? Many future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered as well. We will cover those issues 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 training options are offered.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education 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 living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Redland AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. 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 bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Redland AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new profession in Redland AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive 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 college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Schools
For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Redland AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Schools
After you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Redland AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal 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 list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from 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). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Redland AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Redland AL college you choose should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a significant network of Redland AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Redland AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Redland AL schools you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Redland home, visit the college and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask 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? Finally, confirm that the interior designer college you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Redland AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Pick the Best Redland Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior designer program is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools 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 Redland AL.