Interior Designer Degree
How to Select the Best One Near Opelika Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Opelika AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. It's important that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work, even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors. And because interior designers must be licensed in several states, the school you select should prep you to pass any required licensing test as well as provide the necessary training for your specialty. So it's crucial you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are considering before you make your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? Some future students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. But keep in mind, a school is not always the right choice just because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. There are several other factors that you should weigh when analyzing schools, for example reputation and accreditation. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.
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Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous 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 some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Opelika AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often 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 specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Opelika AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new career in Opelika AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Degree Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Opelika AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Opelika AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your options as well. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Opelika AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep 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) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Opelika AL college you choose should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy 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 design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Opelika AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Opelika AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of support they provide. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Opelika AL programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Opelika home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer program you enroll in 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 at night or on weekends near Opelika AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Choose the Best Opelika Interior Design College
Picking the right interior designer school is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. It is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Opelika Alabama.