Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Pick the Right One Near Alexander City Alabama
So it’s time to start the task of selecting an interior design school near Alexander City AL once you have made a career decision to become an interior designer. It's important that you get the best available training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So in order to evaluate and compare each program you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision it's vital that you do the proper research. But exactly where do you begin? When checking out interior design programs, the majority of students start by targeting those that are closest to their homes with the lowest tuition. 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 various other considerations that you should evaluate when analyzing schools, for example accreditation and reputation. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 choices are offered.
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Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone 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, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Alexander City AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently 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 particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Alexander City AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new profession in Alexander City AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of 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 mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two 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 residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Colleges
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Alexander City AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Alexander City AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Alexander City AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become 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 program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Alexander City AL program you enroll in should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly 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 regard within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Alexander City AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Alexander City AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is important 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 offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small 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 Alexander City AL colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Alexander City home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Alexander City AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Alexander City Interior Design School
Selecting the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many factors to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. It is still essential 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 assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alexander City Alabama.