Interior Designer Program
How to Pick the Right One Near Dothan Alabama
So it’s time to begin the task 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 best available 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 college you choose should prep you to pass any required licensing test and provide the necessary training for your specialty. So it's essential you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are considering before you make your final selection. But where do you start? Some future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you should be asking 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 class alternatives are offered.
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Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Dothan AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal 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 banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance 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. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Dothan AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to begin your new career in Dothan AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several 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 level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options 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. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt 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 required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Classes
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Dothan AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a great alternative 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 colleges may be the only 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 as well. Just make certain that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college has to be within driving distance from your Dothan AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program 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 may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Dothan AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Dothan AL college you choose should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a large network of Dothan AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Dothan AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Dothan AL schools you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Dothan home, visit the college and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Dothan AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Dothan Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior designer school is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many points to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. It is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Dothan Alabama.