How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Program Reform Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Reform AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final selection. But just where do you begin? Many future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in 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 options are offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Reform AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces 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 several areas of commercial and residential 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 produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Reform AL interior designers employ 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 launch your new profession in Reform AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire 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.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Classes
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Reform AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole 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 reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire 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 school may be the perfect option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college must be within commuting distance from your Reform AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Reform AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become 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 school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Reform AL school you select should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill 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 designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Reform AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Reform AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Reform AL schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Reform home, go to the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Reform AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Find the Best Reform Interior Design Program
Selecting the ideal interior designer program is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Reform AL.