Interior Designer College
How to Pick the Best One Near Bessemer Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Bessemer AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. It's imperative that you get the best available training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a knack for designing residential or commercial interiors. And because interior designers are licensed in several states, the college you select should prep you to pass any required licensing exam as well as provide the proper training for your specialty. So in order to analyze and compare each school you are looking at before you make your final selection it's crucial that you carry out the proper research. But just where do you start? When looking for interior design programs, the majority of students begin by targeting the ones that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. There are many other factors that you should evaluate when analyzing schools, for instance reputation and accreditation. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching 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 options are offered.
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Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Bessemer AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically 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 working on commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate 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 focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Bessemer AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new career in Bessemer AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose 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 covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree 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 achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree 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 mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Degree Programs
For students who to study in the comfort of their Bessemer AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs
Once you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your Bessemer AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Bessemer AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require 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 requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Bessemer AL program you select should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill 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 assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Bessemer AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Bessemer AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of support they offer. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Bessemer AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Bessemer home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Bessemer AL, make sure that those classes are offered. 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 due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Find Out More About Becoming an Interior Designer in Bessemer
Enroll in the Right Bessemer Interior Design School
Selecting the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several points to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. It is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Bessemer Alabama.
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