Interior Designer School
How to Enroll in the Right One Near Phenix City Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Phenix City AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since interior designers must be licensed in several states, the school you select should prepare you to pass any required licensing test and provide the proper training for your specialty. So in order to evaluate and compare each college you are considering before you make your ultimate selection it's essential that you perform the appropriate research. But where do you begin? When checking out interior design programs, the majority of students begin by zeroing in on the ones that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are key factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. There are various other factors that you should evaluate when reviewing schools, such as accreditation and reputation. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking 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 alternatives are offered.
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Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training 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 building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Phenix City AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality 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 banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are several 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 create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Phenix City AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training required to start your new career in Phenix City AL. Your choice 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 needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 provide advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Courses
For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Phenix City AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire 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 program may be the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Phenix City AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in 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). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Phenix City AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate 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 mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Phenix City AL college you choose should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Phenix City AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Phenix City AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Phenix City AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Phenix City home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design program you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Phenix City AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Right Phenix City Interior Design College
Picking the right interior design college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many things to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. It is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Phenix City Alabama.