How to Select the Right Interior Designer Program Weaver Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Weaver 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 spaces, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will discuss 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 training options are available.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key difference between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Weaver AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Weaver AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new career in Weaver AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 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 degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs 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 normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Colleges
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Weaver AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn 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 setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Weaver AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program 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 training are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Weaver AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Weaver AL college you choose should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a substantial network of Weaver AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Weaver AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of support they offer. A number of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Weaver AL colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Weaver home, go to the college and sit in on 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Weaver AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Find the Right Weaver Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior designer program is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Weaver AL.