Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Select the Best One Near Dixiana Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Dixiana AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your talents to work. And since interior designers are licensed in several states, the school you choose should prepare you to pass any required licensing test as well as provide the necessary training for your specialty. So it's crucial you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But just where do you begin? A number of future students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of other factors that you should weigh when reviewing schools, for example accreditation and reputation. We will address those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.
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Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Dixiana AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as 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 picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Dixiana AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new career in Dixiana AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Colleges
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Dixiana AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire 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 confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
After you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Dixiana AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared 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 most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer college 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 a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Dixiana AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Dixiana AL program you select should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Dixiana AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Dixiana AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Dixiana AL programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Dixiana home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Dixiana AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Dixiana Interior Design School
Choosing the ideal interior designer program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many things to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. It is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Dixiana Alabama.