How to Pick the Right Interior Designer School Sumiton Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Sumiton AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But where do you begin? A number of future students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of 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 many occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Sumiton AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Sumiton AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new profession in Sumiton AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and use 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 take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Colleges
For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Sumiton AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a great solution 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 convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Colleges
When you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Sumiton AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest 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 college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding 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 recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Sumiton AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an outstanding education, the Sumiton AL school you choose should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask 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 profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a significant network of Sumiton AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Sumiton AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Sumiton AL programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Sumiton home, go to the college and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Sumiton AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Ideal Sumiton Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior design college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several things to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still essential 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 properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Sumiton AL.