How to Pick the Right Interior Design Program Redland Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Redland AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are considering before you make your final choice. But where do you start? A number of potential students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many 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 often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Redland AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new profession in Redland AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be covered 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 level of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions 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 creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Colleges
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Redland AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. 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 difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized 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 education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Redland AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you select 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Redland AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Redland AL college you choose should also furnish the suitable instruction 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 undoubtedly need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a large network of Redland AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Redland AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Redland AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Redland home, go to the school 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 experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Redland AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Redland Interior Design School
Selecting the ideal interior designer program is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many factors to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Redland AL.