Interior Designer School
How to Choose the Right One Near Florence Alabama
So it’s time to start the task of selecting an interior design school near Florence AL now that you have made a career decision to study to be an interior designer. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But just where do you begin? Some prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. However, a school is not always the right choice simply because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. 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 before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.
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Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires 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 trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Florence AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Florence AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new profession in Florence AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive 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 degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Classes
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Florence AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole 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. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Florence AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Florence AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Florence AL school you enroll in should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill 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 received your interior designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools 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 a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a large network of Florence AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Florence AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Florence AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Florence home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with a few students and find out 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Florence AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Florence Interior Design School
Selecting the ideal interior designer college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a program, course or school. 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 complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Florence Alabama.