Interior Designer College
How to Find the Best One Near Dothan Alabama
So it’s time to start the process of choosing an interior design school near Dothan AL once you have made a career choice to study to be an interior designer. It's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work, even if you have always had a knack for designing residential or commercial interiors. And since interior designers must be licensed in several states, the school you select should prep you to pass any required licensing exam and provide the proper training for your specialty. So in order to analyze and compare each college you are reviewing before you make your final selection it's essential that you perform the appropriate due diligence. But just where do you start? When checking out interior design programs, many potential students begin by zeroing in on the ones that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. 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 instance accreditation and reputation. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.
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Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Dothan AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Dothan AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new career in Dothan AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions 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 creative and technical facets of the trade 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 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things 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. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Schools
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Dothan AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Dothan 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 cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. Just confirm 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Dothan AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Dothan AL school you enroll in should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at 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 field and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a substantial network of Dothan AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Dothan AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Dothan AL colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Dothan home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Dothan AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Dothan Interior Design College
Picking the right interior design college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are many factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. It is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Dothan Alabama.