Interior Designer Program
How to Enroll in the Best One Near Northport Alabama
So it’s time to start the task of picking 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 develop your skills, even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So in order to assess and compare each school you are looking at prior to making your final decision it's vital that you do the appropriate due diligence. But just how do you undertake enrolling in the right program? When looking for interior design programs, many potential students start by zeroing in on the ones that are closest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While location and cost are important variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover 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
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between the two 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, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Northport AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often focus 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 stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Northport AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new career in Northport AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to 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 choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain 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 deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things 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 programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Colleges
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Northport AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent 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 a number of students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized 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 education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges
When you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Northport AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Northport AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require 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 requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Northport AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet 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 received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem 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 relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Northport AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Northport AL colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Northport home, visit the campus and sit in on 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 backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer school you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant 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, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Best Northport Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior designer program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several things to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. It is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Northport Alabama.