How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Uniontown Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Uniontown 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 essential that you obtain the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must 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 before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Uniontown AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have 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, Uniontown AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new career in Uniontown AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick 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 discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive 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 secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the 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. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Schools
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Uniontown AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you select 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 education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Uniontown AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous 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 organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Uniontown AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an excellent education, the Uniontown AL school you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first position. 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 school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of Uniontown AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Uniontown AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Uniontown AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Uniontown home, go to the campus and monitor a few classes. While there talk with some 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 Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer program you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Uniontown AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Pick the Right Uniontown Interior Design Program
Picking the right interior design program is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Uniontown AL.