How to Select the Right Interior Design College Smoke Rise Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Smoke Rise AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities 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 as well. So it's essential that you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you start? Some prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Smoke Rise AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Smoke Rise AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training required to start your new career in Smoke Rise AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical 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 two year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized 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 primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Degree Programs
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Smoke Rise AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have busy 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 some students online schools 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 conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you select is accredited by a respected 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 education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Smoke Rise AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others 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 design program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm 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 school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Smoke Rise AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become 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 program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Smoke Rise AL college you choose should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a sizable network of Smoke Rise AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Smoke Rise AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Smoke Rise AL programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Smoke Rise home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Smoke Rise AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Pick the Ideal Smoke Rise Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior design school is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many points to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Smoke Rise AL.