Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Select the Best One Near Montgomery Alabama
So it’s time to start the process of picking an interior design school near Montgomery AL once you have made a career decision to become an interior designer. It's imperative that you get the best available training to put your skills to work, even if you have always had a knack for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial you carry out the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But just where do you start? When looking for interior design schools, the majority of students begin by zeroing in on those that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. There are many other qualifications that you should weigh when analyzing schools, for example reputation and accreditation. We will discuss those issues and other important 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 training options are available.
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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the amount 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. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Montgomery AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often 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 hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Montgomery AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new career in Montgomery AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth 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 job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options 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. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Courses
For students who to study in the comfort of their Montgomery AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools
Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Montgomery AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Montgomery AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Montgomery AL school you choose should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Montgomery AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Montgomery AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design programs provide financial aid to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Montgomery AL schools you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Montgomery home, visit the campus and attend a couple of 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 credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Montgomery AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose the Best Montgomery Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior design college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several things to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. It is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Montgomery Alabama.