Interior Designer Degree
How to Select the Best One Near Northport Alabama
So it’s time to begin the process of choosing an interior design school near Northport AL now that you have made a career decision to study to be an interior designer. It's important that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work, even if you have always had a knack for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since interior designers are licensed in several states, the college you select should prepare you to pass any required licensing exam and provide the necessary training for your specialty. So it's very important you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you begin? Some prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. But keep in mind, a school is not always the best option simply because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. There are a number of other factors that you should evaluate when analyzing schools, for instance reputation and accreditation. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.
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Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent 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 as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Northport AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. 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 bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Northport AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training required to start your new career in Northport AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Schools
For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Northport AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good option 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 a number of students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire 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 structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools
When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college must be within commuting distance from your Northport AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm 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 school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Northport AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several 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 calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Northport AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet 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 obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Northport AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Northport AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. A number of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Northport AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Northport home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Northport AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Northport Interior Design School
Choosing the ideal interior designer school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many things to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. It is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Northport Alabama.