Interior Designer Degree
How to Pick the Best One Near Saraland Alabama
So it’s time to start the task of selecting 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 gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And because interior designers must be licensed in a number of states, the college you choose should prep you to pass any required licensing exam as well as provide the necessary training for your specialty. So in order to assess and compare each school you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision it's very important that you perform the proper due diligence. But just how do you go about finding the right school? Some prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. There are several other qualifications that you should evaluate when reviewing schools, for instance reputation and accreditation. We will address those topics and other important 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 training alternatives are offered.
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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training 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 living areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two 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 essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Saraland AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training required to launch your new career in Saraland AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take 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 available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Colleges
For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Saraland AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you select 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 distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Saraland AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design college and program that you select has earned accreditation from 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 rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Saraland AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers get 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 school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Saraland AL program you enroll in should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements 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 no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Saraland AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Saraland AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of support they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Saraland AL schools you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Saraland home, go to 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 styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Saraland AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Saraland Interior Design College
Picking the ideal interior design program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. It is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Saraland Alabama.