How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Course West Blocton Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near West Blocton AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you begin? Some potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 choices are offered.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in West Blocton 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 the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are numerous 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 integrating Feng shui principles, West Blocton AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new profession in West Blocton AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in 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 required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects 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 position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining 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 advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly 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 as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require 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 sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Degree Programs
For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their West Blocton AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the only option if no interior design colleges 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 reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized 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 discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school has to be within commuting distance from your West Blocton AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of West Blocton AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the West Blocton AL college you enroll in should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a large network of West Blocton AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the West Blocton AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the West Blocton AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your West Blocton home, visit the school and attend a few 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 credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near West Blocton AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose the Best West Blocton Interior Design College
Choosing the right interior design program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in West Blocton AL.