How to Select the Right Interior Design Degree Program Summerdale Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Summerdale AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your skills 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 as well. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? Some potential students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main 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. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Summerdale AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Summerdale AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new career in Summerdale AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job 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 specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically 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 colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Degree Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Summerdale AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be an excellent 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 home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Schools
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 campus must be within commuting distance from your Summerdale AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Summerdale AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some 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 college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Summerdale AL college you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Summerdale AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Summerdale AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Summerdale AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Summerdale home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Summerdale AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Summerdale Interior Design Program
Choosing the right interior designer school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Summerdale AL.