How to Choose the Right Interior Design College Summerdale Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Summerdale AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? A number of prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Summerdale AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Summerdale AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new career in Summerdale AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed 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 two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer 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 the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Degree Programs
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Summerdale AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools 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 commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs
After you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Summerdale AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. 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 undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Summerdale AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers get 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 several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Summerdale AL school you choose should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools 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 school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Summerdale AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Summerdale AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Summerdale AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Summerdale home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer school you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Summerdale AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Find the Ideal Summerdale Interior Design Program
Choosing the right interior designer college is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many points to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Summerdale AL.