Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Choose the Best One Near Montgomery Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Montgomery AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But exactly where do you begin? Some prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. There are a number of other qualifications that you should weigh when comparing schools, for example reputation and accreditation. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.
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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary 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 talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as 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 2 general areas that an interior designer in Montgomery AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Montgomery AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new career in Montgomery AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions 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 technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Schools
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Montgomery AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a recognized 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 online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Montgomery AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer college and program 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). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training 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 Montgomery AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Montgomery AL college you choose should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Montgomery AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Montgomery AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Montgomery AL colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Montgomery home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your hectic 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 Montgomery AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Montgomery Interior Design School
Picking the right interior design school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many things to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. It is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Montgomery Alabama.