Interior Designer Degree
How to Enroll in the Best One Near Huntsville Alabama
So it’s time to start the process of choosing an interior design school near Huntsville AL now that you have made a career decision to study to be an interior designer. It's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work, even if you have always had a knack for designing residential or commercial interiors. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are considering before you make your final selection. But exactly where do you begin? When looking for interior design schools, many potential students start by targeting those that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. There are various other factors that you should weigh when comparing schools, such as reputation and accreditation. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 vs Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Huntsville AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers 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 integrating Feng shui concepts, Huntsville AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new career in Huntsville AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized 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 programs are mostly 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 three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Colleges
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Huntsville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools 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 study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Huntsville AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you choose 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 an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Huntsville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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 college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Huntsville AL program you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with 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 design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Huntsville AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Huntsville AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Huntsville AL schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Huntsville home, visit the school 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 backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Huntsville AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Best Huntsville Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior designer program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. It is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Huntsville Alabama.