Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Find the Right One Near Oxford Alabama
So it’s time to begin the process of choosing an interior design school near Oxford 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 interiors, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since interior designers must be licensed in several states, the college you choose should prep you to pass any required licensing test and provide the proper training for your specialty. So in order to assess and compare each program you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection it's essential that you perform the proper due diligence. But where do you start? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. There are many other factors that you should evaluate when comparing schools, for example reputation and accreditation. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 choices are available.
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Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Oxford AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often 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, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers 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, Oxford AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new profession in Oxford AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to pick 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 addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Degree Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Oxford AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain 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 distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Oxford AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of 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 subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design school 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 receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive 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 outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Oxford AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Oxford AL program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a large network of Oxford AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Oxford AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Oxford AL schools you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Oxford home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Oxford AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Choose the Best Oxford Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior designer college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are many points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. It is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Oxford Alabama.