How to Choose the Right Interior Design Degree Program Redstone Arsenal Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Redstone Arsenal AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are considering before you make your final decision. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those topics 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 cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Redstone Arsenal AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often focus primarily 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 focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Redstone Arsenal AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new profession in Redstone Arsenal AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance 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 degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
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 field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Degree Programs
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Redstone Arsenal AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design programs 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 commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Once you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Redstone Arsenal AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. 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 training are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Redstone Arsenal AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Redstone Arsenal AL school you choose should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a large network of Redstone Arsenal AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Redstone Arsenal AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design programs offer financial aid to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper 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 large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Redstone Arsenal AL schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Redstone Arsenal home, go to the campus 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 philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Redstone Arsenal AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Select the Right Redstone Arsenal Interior Design Program
Choosing the right interior design school is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are several things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations 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 quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Redstone Arsenal AL.