Interior Designer Program
How to Choose the Best One Near East Florence Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near East Florence AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And because interior designers must be licensed in several states, the school you choose should prep you to pass any required licensing exam and provide the necessary training for your specialty. So in order to assess and compare each college you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision it's vital that you perform the appropriate due diligence. But just where do you begin? When looking for interior design programs, the majority of students start by targeting those that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. However, a school is not always the best option just because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. There are various other factors that you should evaluate when comparing schools, for instance accreditation and reputation. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask 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 class options are available.
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Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business 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 taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in East Florence AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, East Florence AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new profession in East Florence AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary 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 mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Degree Programs
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their East Florence AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good alternative 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 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 commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain 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 alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your East Florence AL home. 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 expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected 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 teachers. Just make sure 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 school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of East Florence AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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 college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the East Florence AL program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out 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 sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a sizable network of East Florence AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the East Florence AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the East Florence AL colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your East Florence home, go to the school and monitor 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 approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer college you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near East Florence AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Best East Florence Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior designer college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. It is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in East Florence Alabama.