Interior Designer School
How to Choose the Best One Near Mountain Brook Alabama
So it’s time to start the task of choosing an interior design school near Mountain Brook AL now that you have made a career choice to become an interior designer. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate 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 may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So in order to analyze and compare each college you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection it's essential that you carry out the proper research. But exactly where do you start? Many potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. There are various other factors that you should evaluate when analyzing schools, for example reputation and accreditation. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.
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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal 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, 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 various occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Mountain Brook AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Mountain Brook AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new career in Mountain Brook AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated 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. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade 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 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve 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 college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Schools
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Mountain Brook AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. 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 right alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
After you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Mountain Brook AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your choices as well. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Mountain Brook AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get 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 some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Mountain Brook AL school you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
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 position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a significant network of Mountain Brook AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Mountain Brook AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Mountain Brook AL schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Mountain Brook home, visit the school and monitor a few classes. While there speak with some students and find out 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? Finally, make certain that the interior design college you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Mountain Brook AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Mountain Brook Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior designer school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several things to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. It is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges 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 Mountain Brook Alabama.