How to Select the Right Interior Design College Stapleton Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Stapleton AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you perform the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are considering before you make your final decision. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key distinction between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Stapleton AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Stapleton AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training required to launch your new career in Stapleton AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs 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 typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Degree Programs
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Stapleton AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have busy 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 schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive 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 structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Stapleton AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify 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 training are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Stapleton AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Stapleton AL program you select should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Stapleton AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Stapleton AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of support they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Stapleton AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Stapleton home, visit the school and monitor a few classes. While there speak with a few 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 Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Stapleton AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Select the Ideal Stapleton Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior design school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of things to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Stapleton AL.