Interior Designer School
How to Enroll in the Best One Near Saraland Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Saraland AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital you carry out the proper research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But just how do you go about enrolling in the right program? A number of potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. However, a school is not always the best option simply because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. There are several other considerations that you should evaluate when comparing schools, for example reputation and accreditation. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.
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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main difference between them is the amount 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. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Saraland AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including 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 picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Saraland AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to start your new career in Saraland AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive 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 position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Colleges
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Saraland AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you select is accredited by a recognized 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 education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Saraland AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your options also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. 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 an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program 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 training are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Saraland AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Saraland AL school you choose should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Saraland AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Saraland AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of support they offer. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Saraland AL programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Saraland home, go to the college and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Saraland AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Saraland Interior Design College
Picking the right interior design college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several factors to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. It is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Saraland Alabama.