How to Select the Right Interior Design College Stevenson Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Stevenson AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But where do you start? A number of potential students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Stevenson AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including 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 wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Stevenson AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new profession in Stevenson AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Schools
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Stevenson AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
After you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Stevenson AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive 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 recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Stevenson 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 mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Stevenson AL school you enroll in should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a significant network of Stevenson AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Stevenson AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Stevenson AL schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Stevenson home, visit the campus and monitor a few classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Stevenson AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Stevenson Interior Design Program
Picking the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are a number of points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Stevenson AL.