Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Find the Best One Near Madison Alabama
So it’s time to begin the process of selecting an interior design school near Madison AL now that you have made a career choice to study to be an interior designer. It's imperative that you get the best available training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors. 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 as well as provide the proper training for your specialty. So in order to analyze and compare each college you are considering before you make your final selection it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research. But just how do you approach enrolling in the right school? When looking for interior design schools, the majority of students begin by zeroing in on those that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. However, a school is not always the right 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 considered as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.
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Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates 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 living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Madison AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Madison AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training needed to begin your new profession in Madison AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit 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 mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design 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. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Schools
For students who to study in the convenience of their Madison AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are employed 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 some students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
After 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 needs to be within driving distance from your Madison AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design school and program that you select has earned accreditation from 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 gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Madison AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Madison AL college you choose should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement 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 regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a significant network of Madison AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Madison AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of aid they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts 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 large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Madison AL programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Madison home, visit the college and attend a few classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design program you select offers 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 Madison AL, make certain 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, family or illness.
Enroll in the Right Madison Interior Design College
Picking the right interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many things to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. It is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided 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 excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Madison Alabama.