Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Enroll in the Best One Near Gardendale Alabama
So it’s time to start the task of selecting an interior design school near Gardendale AL now that you have made a career decision to become an interior designer. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since interior designers must be licensed in several states, the school you choose should prep you to pass any required licensing exam as well as provide the necessary training for your specialty. So it's vital you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your final choice. But just how do you undertake finding the right school? When looking for interior design programs, many potential students begin by zeroing in on the ones that are closest to their homes with the lowest tuition. But keep in mind, a school is not always the best option just because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.
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Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Gardendale AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Gardendale AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new career in Gardendale AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Schools
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Gardendale AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Gardendale AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design college and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Gardendale AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require 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 program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Gardendale AL program you enroll in should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a large network of Gardendale AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Gardendale AL schools you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they provide. A number of interior design programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Gardendale AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Gardendale home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Gardendale AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Gardendale Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior design college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. It is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Gardendale Alabama.