Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Choose the Best One Near Saraland Alabama
So it’s time to start the process of choosing an interior design school near Saraland AL now that you have made a career decision to study to be an interior designer. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. But just how do you approach enrolling in the right school? When looking for interior design programs, the majority of students start by zeroing in on the ones that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. However, a school is not always the best choice simply because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. There are many other qualifications that you should evaluate when comparing schools, for instance reputation and accreditation. We will cover those topics and other vital 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 choices are available.
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Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Saraland AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must 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 principles, Saraland AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training needed to start your new career in Saraland AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Schools
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Saraland AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools
Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Saraland AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design college and program that you choose 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Saraland AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep 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 in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Saraland AL school you choose should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a sizable network of Saraland AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Saraland AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? 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. Ask the Saraland AL colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Saraland home, go to the college and monitor a few classes. While there speak with some 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, verify that the interior designer school you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Saraland AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Saraland Interior Design College
Picking the ideal interior design college is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. It is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions 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 quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Saraland Alabama.