How to Select the Right Interior Designer College Stevenson Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Stevenson 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 get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering before you make your final selection. But just where do you begin? Many prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will discuss those issues 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 class alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Stevenson AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Stevenson AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new profession in Stevenson AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as 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 certain to pick 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 benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Colleges
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Stevenson AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Stevenson AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Stevenson AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become 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 program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Stevenson AL college you choose should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a substantial network of Stevenson AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Stevenson AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little 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 college and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Stevenson AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Select the Ideal Stevenson Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior design school is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several things to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Stevenson AL.