Interior Designer Degree
How to Enroll in the Best One Near Alabaster Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Alabaster AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. It's imperative that you get the best available training to put your skills to work, even if you have always had a knack for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So in order to analyze and compare each program you are reviewing prior to making your final selection it's crucial that you perform the proper due diligence. But where do you start? Many potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.
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Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Alabaster AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks 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 use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Alabaster AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new profession in Alabaster AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives 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, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually 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 cover the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ 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 degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Colleges
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Alabaster AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. 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 sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school 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 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 option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Alabaster AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Alabaster AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become 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 college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Alabaster AL school you select should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of Alabaster AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Alabaster AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of support they offer. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Alabaster AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Alabaster home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. While there talk 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 Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer program you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Alabaster AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Find Out More About Becoming an Interior Designer in Alabaster
Choose the Best Alabaster Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior design college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. It is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alabaster Alabama.
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