How to Find the Right Interior Design Program Riverside Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Riverside AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you get 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 preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? A number of prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will address those topics and other vital 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 Decoration vs Interior Design
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction between them 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, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Riverside AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate 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 emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Riverside AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new career in Riverside AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. 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 want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Colleges
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Riverside AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools
When you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Riverside AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. 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 undergone a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Riverside AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Riverside AL program you choose should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly 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 high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a large network of Riverside AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Riverside AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they offer. Many of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Riverside AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Riverside home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Riverside AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Select the Right Riverside Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior designer college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several things 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 profession. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the 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 reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Riverside AL.