How to Pick the Right Interior Design College Summerdale Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Summerdale AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final selection. But just where do you start? Some future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Summerdale AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Summerdale AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new profession in Summerdale AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to 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 required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate 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 normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Schools
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Summerdale AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed 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 some students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. 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 Programs
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Summerdale AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer program and school that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Summerdale AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the School 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 as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Summerdale AL school you enroll in should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Summerdale AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Summerdale AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Summerdale AL colleges you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Summerdale home, visit the college and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Summerdale AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Ideal Summerdale Interior Design School
Selecting the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many things to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Summerdale AL.