Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Find the Best One Near Athens Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Athens AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So in order to evaluate and compare each college you are looking at prior to making your final decision it's vital that you do the appropriate research. But just how do you go about enrolling in the right program? When checking out interior design schools, many potential students begin by targeting the ones that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. But keep in mind, a school is not always the right choice just because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.
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Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training 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 work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Athens AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. 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 may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Athens AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new profession in Athens AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Courses
For students who to study in the comfort of their Athens AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools 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. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Athens AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Athens AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Athens AL program you choose should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing 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 probably want some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a large network of Athens AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Athens AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Athens AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Athens home, go to the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer program you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Athens AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Athens Interior Design School
Picking the right interior design school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. It is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Athens Alabama.