How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Program Sylvan Springs Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Sylvan Springs AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you do the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? A number of prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account 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 cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires 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 some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Sylvan Springs AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to 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, Sylvan Springs AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new profession in Sylvan Springs AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover 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 furnish advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices 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 degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Classes
For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Sylvan Springs AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed 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 programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, 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 online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Sylvan Springs AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Sylvan Springs AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get 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 college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Sylvan Springs AL college you select should also furnish the appropriate education 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 College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Sylvan Springs AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Sylvan Springs AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Sylvan Springs AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Sylvan Springs home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Sylvan Springs AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Pick the Ideal Sylvan Springs Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior design program is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Sylvan Springs AL.