Interior Designer College
How to Find the Best One Near Florence Alabama
So it’s time to start the task of picking an interior design school near Florence AL now that you have made a career decision to become an interior designer. It's important that you get the appropriate training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors. And since interior designers must be licensed in several states, the school you select should prepare you to pass any required licensing test as well as provide the proper training for your specialty. So in order to assess and compare each program you are considering before you make your final selection it's vital that you perform the proper research. But just how do you go about finding the right school? When looking for interior design schools, the majority of students begin by zeroing in on those that are closest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. There are many other qualifications that you should evaluate when comparing schools, such as reputation and accreditation. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.
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Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general 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 Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Florence AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, 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 several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Florence AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new profession in Florence AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Schools
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Florence AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. 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 sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Florence AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify 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 excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Florence AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Ready 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 college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Florence AL program you select should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Florence AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Florence AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of support they provide. Many of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often 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 Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Florence AL schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Florence home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Florence AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Choose the Right Florence Interior Design School
Picking the right interior designer school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several points 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 regarded in the profession. It is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Florence Alabama.