How to Find the Right Interior Design Degree Program Shoal Creek Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Shoal Creek AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you start? A number of future students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Shoal Creek AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Shoal Creek AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new profession in Shoal Creek AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate 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 attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Schools
For students who to study in the comfort of their Shoal Creek AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, 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 distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools
After you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Shoal Creek AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the cheapest school 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 accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify 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 colleges. Also, many Shoal Creek AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of 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 requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Shoal Creek AL program you enroll in should also provide the suitable education 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Shoal Creek AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Shoal Creek AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Shoal Creek AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Shoal Creek home, go to the school 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 styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Shoal Creek AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose the Ideal Shoal Creek Interior Design Program
Choosing the right interior design program is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Shoal Creek AL.