Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Find the Best One Near Madison Alabama
So it’s time to begin the task of selecting an interior design school near Madison AL now that you have made a career choice to become an interior designer. 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 since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So in order to analyze and compare each school you are reviewing before you make your final decision it's vital that you carry out the proper due diligence. But exactly where do you start? Many prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. However, a school is not always the best choice simply because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover 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 design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting 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 educated to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Madison AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, 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 primary consideration.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Madison AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to acquire the training needed to begin your new career in Madison AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have 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 qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components 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 two year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Schools
For students who to study in the comfort of their Madison AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. 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 sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Madison AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Madison AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get 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 requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Madison AL college you enroll in should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill 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 earned your interior designer certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Madison AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Madison AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually 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 larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Madison AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Madison home, go to the campus and monitor a few classes. While there talk with a few 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Madison AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Madison Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior design program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. It is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Madison Alabama.