Interior Designer Program
How to Choose the Right One Near Decatur Alabama
So it’s time to start the process of picking an interior design school near Decatur AL now that you have made a career decision to study to be an interior designer. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since interior designers are licensed in a number of states, the college you choose should prepare you to pass any required licensing exam and provide the proper training for your specialty. So in order to analyze and compare each program you are looking at before you make your final choice it's vital that you do the appropriate due diligence. But where do you begin? When checking out interior design schools, the majority of students start by targeting those that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. There are many other considerations that you should evaluate when comparing schools, for example accreditation and reputation. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.
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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, 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 work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Decatur AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed 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 must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers 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 concepts, Decatur AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new career in Decatur AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have 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 mandated 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 descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree 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 training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically 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 degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Classes
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Decatur AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Programs
When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Decatur AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national 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 evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Decatur AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the School 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) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Decatur AL school you choose should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet 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 designer certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Decatur AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Decatur AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Decatur AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Decatur home, go to the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer school you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Decatur AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Learn More About How to Become an Interior Designer in Decatur
Choose the Best Decatur Interior Design School
Picking the right interior designer program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. It is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Decatur Alabama.
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