Interior Designer Degree
How to Pick the Best One Near Huntsville Alabama
So it’s time to begin the process of picking an interior design school near Huntsville AL now that you have made a career choice to study to be an interior designer. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So in order to evaluate and compare each college you are reviewing before you make your final decision it's essential that you perform the appropriate research. But just how do you go about enrolling in the right program? Some prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.
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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Huntsville AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Huntsville AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new profession in Huntsville AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Classes
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Huntsville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs 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 confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools
When you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Huntsville AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design program and school 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment 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 agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Huntsville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate 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 mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Huntsville AL school you choose should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet 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 want some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a significant network of Huntsville AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Huntsville AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Huntsville AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Huntsville home, go to the college and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and ask 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? Finally, confirm that the interior designer school you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Huntsville AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Huntsville Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior design program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many things to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. It is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Huntsville Alabama.