Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Choose the Best One Near Calera Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Calera 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 right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So in order to assess and compare each school you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision it's vital that you do the appropriate research. But just where do you begin? A number of future students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. But keep in mind, a school is not always the best option just because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. There are many other qualifications that you should evaluate when comparing schools, for instance accreditation and reputation. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.
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Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Calera AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas 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 commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Calera AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new career in Calera AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make 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 a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive 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 two year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Degree Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Calera AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, 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 distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Calera AL residence. Of course 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 picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Calera AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get 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 program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Calera AL program you enroll in should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination 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? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a large network of Calera AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Calera AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Calera AL programs you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Calera home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design college you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Calera AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Calera Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior designer program is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are many points to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. It is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate 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 achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Calera Alabama.