How to Pick the Right Interior Designer College Redstone Arsenal Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Redstone Arsenal 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 important that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? A number of future students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous 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 areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Redstone Arsenal AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Redstone Arsenal AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to begin your new career in Redstone Arsenal AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed 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 benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically 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 schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Schools
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Redstone Arsenal AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many 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 lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Now that you have selected 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, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Redstone Arsenal AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national 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 a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Redstone Arsenal AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So besides providing an excellent education, the Redstone Arsenal AL school you enroll in should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of Redstone Arsenal AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Redstone Arsenal AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Redstone Arsenal AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Redstone Arsenal home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Redstone Arsenal AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Pick the Right Redstone Arsenal Interior Design College
Picking the right interior designer college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Redstone Arsenal AL.