Interior Designer Degree
How to Select the Best One Near Foley Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Foley 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 receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So in order to analyze and compare each program you are reviewing prior to making your final selection it's vital that you perform the appropriate due diligence. But just how do you go about enrolling in the right school? Many potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. There are many other factors that you should evaluate when reviewing schools, such as reputation and accreditation. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching 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 available.
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Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Foley AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently 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 focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Foley AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to begin your new career in Foley AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade required 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 design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Classes
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Foley AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design programs 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 sure that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. 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 perfect alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Schools
Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Foley AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Foley AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prep 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) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Foley AL program you select should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a significant network of Foley AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Foley AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Foley AL colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Foley home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Foley AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Foley Interior Design College
Choosing the right interior designer school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. It is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Foley Alabama.