Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Select the Best One Near Oxford Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Oxford AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. It's important that you get the appropriate training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important you perform the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But just how do you approach finding the right program? A number of potential students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. 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 choices are offered.
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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone 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 formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Oxford AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Oxford AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new profession in Oxford AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter 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) exam mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade 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 two year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs 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 three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Classes
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Oxford AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, 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 distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn 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 Programs
Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Oxford AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Oxford AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Oxford AL college you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance 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 esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of Oxford AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Oxford AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Oxford AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Oxford home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Oxford AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Oxford Interior Design School
Selecting the ideal interior designer program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Locating a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many things to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. It is still important 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 quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Oxford Alabama.