Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Enroll in the Best One Near Helena Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Helena AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. It's important that you get the appropriate training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors. And because interior designers are licensed in a number of states, the school you choose should prepare you to pass any required licensing test as well as provide the necessary training for your specialty. So in order to evaluate and compare each program you are considering prior to making your final choice it's vital that you do the proper due diligence. But just how do you go about enrolling in the right school? When looking for interior design schools, many potential students begin by targeting the ones that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. However, a school is not always the right choice simply because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.
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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Helena AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Helena AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are four degree options available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new profession in Helena AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs 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 technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Courses
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Helena AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative 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 home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Helena AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Helena AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Helena AL program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Helena AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Helena AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of support they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Helena AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Helena home, go to the college and sit in on 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 approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you enroll in 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 attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Helena AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Helena Interior Design School
Picking the right interior design school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. It is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Helena Alabama.