Interior Designer Program
How to Find the Best One Near Decatur Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Decatur AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. It's imperative that you get the appropriate training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a knack for designing residential or commercial interiors. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial you do the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But just where do you begin? Many prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. But keep in mind, a school is not always the best choice simply because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. There are several other qualifications that you should evaluate when analyzing schools, for instance reputation and accreditation. We will cover 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.
IT TAKES JUST A FEW MINUTES TO START YOUR INTERIOR DESIGN CAREER BELOW!
Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic 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 taught to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Decatur AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Decatur AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training needed to begin your new profession in Decatur AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in 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 take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Schools
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Decatur AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, 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 education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Once you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Decatur AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few questions 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 subsequently choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design program and school that you select 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). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. 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 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 available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Decatur AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate 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 program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Decatur AL college you choose should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Decatur AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Decatur AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Decatur AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Decatur home, visit the campus 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 styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer school you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Decatur AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Decatur Interior Design School
Choosing the right interior designer college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. It is still important that you perform your due diligence research. 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 colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Decatur Alabama.