Interior Designer School
How to Pick the Right One Near Alabaster Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Alabaster AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But just how do you undertake finding the right program? A number of future students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. However, a school is not always the best choice simply because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. There are a number of other factors that you should evaluate when analyzing schools, for instance reputation and accreditation. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.
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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education 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 living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Alabaster AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as 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 choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Alabaster AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training required to start your new career in Alabaster AL. Your decision 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 regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt 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 called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Courses
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Alabaster AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the only alternative 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 costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools
After you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college has to be within driving distance from your Alabaster AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer school and program 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 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 outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Alabaster AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become 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 college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Alabaster AL school you enroll in should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a significant network of Alabaster AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Alabaster AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of support they provide. A number of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited college 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 aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Alabaster AL programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Alabaster home, go to the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Alabaster AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose the Best Alabaster Interior Design School
Picking the right interior designer college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many things to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. It is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alabaster Alabama.