How to Pick the Right Interior Design School Thorsby Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Thorsby AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you start? A number of future students will launch their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill 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 Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Thorsby AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must 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 concepts, Thorsby AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new career in Thorsby AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Colleges
For students who to study in the convenience of their Thorsby AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain 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 setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools
After you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Thorsby AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from 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). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program 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 excellent, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Thorsby AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require 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 mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So besides providing an excellent education, the Thorsby AL program you choose should also furnish the proper training 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 College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a significant network of Thorsby AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Thorsby AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is imperative 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 assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Thorsby AL colleges you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Thorsby home, go to the college and sit in on 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 philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Thorsby AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Select the Best Thorsby Interior Design Program
Choosing the right interior design school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Thorsby AL.