How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Redstone Arsenal Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Redstone Arsenal AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you do the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But just where do you begin? Some prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration also. We will address those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 alternatives are offered.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Redstone Arsenal AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Redstone Arsenal AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new profession in Redstone Arsenal AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for 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 available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and use 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 professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Schools
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Redstone Arsenal AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you choose 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 dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges
After you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Redstone Arsenal AL residence. Of course 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 expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone 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 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 applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Redstone Arsenal AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Redstone Arsenal AL college you choose should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a large network of Redstone Arsenal AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Redstone Arsenal AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Redstone Arsenal AL programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Redstone Arsenal home, visit the school and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Redstone Arsenal AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Ideal Redstone Arsenal Interior Design School
Choosing the right interior designer program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Redstone Arsenal AL.