Interior Designer Program
How to Select the Right One Near Helena Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Helena AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since interior designers must be licensed in a number of states, the college you choose should prepare you to pass any required licensing test and provide the proper training for your specialty. So it's very important you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? When looking for interior design programs, many potential students begin by targeting those that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. However, a school is not always the right choice just because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered 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 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 and Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, 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 educated to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Helena 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 specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Helena AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree options available in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new profession in Helena AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees 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 normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Classes
For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Helena AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. 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 attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you select is accredited by a respected 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 online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Programs
Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Helena AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Helena AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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 college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Helena AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper education 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 School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Helena AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Helena AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Helena AL colleges you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Helena home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Helena AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Helena Interior Design College
Choosing the right interior designer program is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several points to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. It is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. 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 colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Helena Alabama.