How to Select the Right Interior Design School Riverside Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Riverside 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 imperative that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities 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 as well. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate selection. But just where do you begin? A number of future students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking 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 choices are available.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Riverside AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, 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 areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Riverside AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new career in Riverside AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business needed 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 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Colleges
For students who to study in the convenience of their Riverside AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online 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 right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools
When you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Riverside AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. 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 gone through 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Riverside AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare 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) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Riverside AL school you select should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Riverside AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Riverside AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of aid they provide. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting 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 competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Riverside AL colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Riverside home, go to the college and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Riverside AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Ideal Riverside Interior Design College
Picking the ideal interior designer school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of points to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Riverside AL.