Interior Designer College
How to Pick the Best One Near Athens Alabama
So it’s time to start the task of selecting an interior design school near Athens AL now that you have made a career decision to become an interior designer. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And because interior designers must be licensed in several states, the school you select should prepare you to pass any required licensing test as well as provide the necessary training for your specialty. So in order to assess and compare each college you are reviewing prior to making your final selection it's vital that you carry out the proper research. But just how do you go about finding the right school? When checking out interior design schools, many potential students start by targeting those that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. However, a school is not always the right option just because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. There are various other qualifications that you should evaluate when analyzing schools, for instance reputation and accreditation. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover 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
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Athens AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate 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 color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Athens AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new profession in Athens AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at many 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 supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices 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 the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Courses
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Athens AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Athens AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you choose 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation 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 college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Athens AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Athens AL program you enroll in should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a sizable network of Athens AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Athens AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Athens AL programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Athens home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Athens AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Athens Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior designer school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. It is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Athens Alabama.