Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Enroll in the Right One Near Ozark Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Ozark AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. It's important that you get the best available 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 are licensed in several states, the college you choose should prepare 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 evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? Many future students will start their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of other considerations that you should evaluate when comparing schools, for example accreditation and reputation. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 vs Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training 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 functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Ozark AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially 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 public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance 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, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Ozark AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new profession in Ozark AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student 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 achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university 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 schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Colleges
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Ozark AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program 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 acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Ozark AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges 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 necessary to make sure that the interior design school and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Ozark AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges 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 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 mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Ozark AL school you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a large network of Ozark AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Ozark AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Ozark AL schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Ozark home, visit the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design college you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Ozark AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Ozark Interior Design College
Picking the ideal interior designer college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. It is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. 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 programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Ozark Alabama.