How to Pick the Right Interior Design School Sylvan Springs Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Sylvan Springs AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But where do you start? Some potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics 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 options are available.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas 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 basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Sylvan Springs AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training required to start your new career in Sylvan Springs AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Degree Programs
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Sylvan Springs AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Schools
Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your Sylvan Springs AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you select has been accredited by 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Sylvan Springs AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Sylvan Springs AL college you choose should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam 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 earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Sylvan Springs AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Sylvan Springs AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors 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 larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Sylvan Springs AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Sylvan Springs home, visit the college and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Sylvan Springs AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Ideal Sylvan Springs Interior Design School
Choosing the right interior designer program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Sylvan Springs AL.