Interior Designer College
How to Enroll in the Best One Near Homewood Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Homewood AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your final choice. But just where do you begin? A number of future students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. But keep in mind, a school is not always the right option just because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. There are many other factors that you should weigh when comparing schools, such as reputation and accreditation. We will address those issues and other crucial 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 options are offered.
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Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main distinction between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Homewood AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, 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 consideration.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Homewood AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new profession in Homewood AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. 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 want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ 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 require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Courses
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Homewood AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools 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 college may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Schools
When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Homewood AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the college and the degree program 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 education are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Homewood AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Homewood AL college you select should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. 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 higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a sizable network of Homewood AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Homewood AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes 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? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Homewood AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Homewood home, go to the campus and monitor a few classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Homewood AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Homewood Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior design school is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. It is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Homewood Alabama.