Interior Designer Degree
How to Enroll in the Right One Near Gardendale Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Gardendale AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So in order to analyze and compare each college you are considering before you make your ultimate choice it's very important that you do the proper due diligence. But where do you start? When looking for interior design schools, the majority of students start by targeting the ones that are closest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. But keep in mind, a school is not always the best option simply because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other crucial 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 class options are offered.
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Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Gardendale AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus 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 emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as 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 choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Gardendale AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to launch your new profession in Gardendale AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment 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 creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position 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 choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and use 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 needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Degree Programs
For students who to study in the convenience of their Gardendale AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 program may be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges
After you have selected 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 issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Gardendale AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School 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 agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program 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 exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Gardendale AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Gardendale AL college you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a large network of Gardendale AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Gardendale AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they provide. Many of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Gardendale AL colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Gardendale home, visit the college and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Gardendale AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll 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.
Learn More About Studying to Become an Interior Designer in Gardendale
Choose the Best Gardendale Interior Design College
Picking the ideal interior designer college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several things to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. It is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Gardendale Alabama.
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