How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Program Redland Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Redland AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But where do you begin? Many prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking 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 class alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary difference between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of 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 various projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Redland AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an 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 looks as the main consideration.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Redland AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training required to begin your new career in Redland AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven 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, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use 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 an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Degree Programs
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Redland AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. 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 schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Redland AL residence. Of course 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 fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. 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 undergone an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. 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 obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Redland AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some 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 college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Redland AL program you enroll in should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Redland AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Redland AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they provide. A number of interior design programs offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Redland AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Redland home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer school you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Redland AL, make certain 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 protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Pick the Ideal Redland Interior Design School
Picking the right interior design program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many things to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Redland AL.