Interior Designer School
How to Enroll in the Best One Near Florence Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Florence AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. It's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work, even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since interior designers are licensed in a number of states, the college you choose should prep 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 school you are looking at before you make your final choice it's very important that you carry out the proper research. But just how do you approach enrolling in the right program? When looking for interior design programs, the majority of students start by targeting the ones that are closest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. There are several other factors that you should evaluate when analyzing schools, for instance accreditation and reputation. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.
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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 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 room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Florence AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new career in Florence AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
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 some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Schools
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Florence AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper 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 program you choose is accredited by a recognized 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 online or distance education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs
Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Florence AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of 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 optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Florence AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Florence AL program you choose should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a sizable network of Florence AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Florence AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Florence AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Florence home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Florence AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Best Florence Interior Design School
Choosing the ideal interior designer program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several factors to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. It is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Florence Alabama.