How to Select the Right Interior Design Degree Program Union Springs Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Union Springs 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 interiors, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you do the proper research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But exactly where do you start? Some future students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Union Springs AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Union Springs AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to start your new profession in Union Springs AL. Your decision will undoubtedly 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, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential 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 achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Schools
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Union Springs AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Programs
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Union Springs AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Union Springs AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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 in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Union Springs AL college you select should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing 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 highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a significant network of Union Springs AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Union Springs AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of support they offer. Many of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Union Springs AL programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Union Springs home, go to the school and monitor a couple of 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 credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Union 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 also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Pick the Best Union Springs Interior Design Program
Selecting the ideal interior designer college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are many things to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Union Springs AL.