How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Course Sylvan Springs Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design 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 residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? Many future students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Sylvan Springs AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often 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 particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are various areas of residential and commercial 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 carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Sylvan Springs AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new career in Sylvan Springs AL. Your choice 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 choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 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, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Degree Programs
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Sylvan Springs AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Sylvan Springs AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. 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 an extensive 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Sylvan Springs AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
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) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Sylvan Springs AL school you select should also provide the proper education 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 School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs 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 indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Sylvan Springs AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Sylvan Springs AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Sylvan Springs AL schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Sylvan Springs home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask 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 designer college you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Sylvan Springs AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Find the Ideal Sylvan Springs Interior Design College
Choosing the right interior design college is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Sylvan Springs AL.