Interior Designer Degree
How to Find the Best One Near Selma Alabama
So it’s time to begin the process of picking an interior design school near Selma AL once you have made a career decision to become an interior designer. It's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work, even if you have always had a knack for designing residential or commercial interiors. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But just how do you approach finding the right program? When checking out interior design programs, many potential students start by zeroing in on those that are closest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are key issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk 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
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Selma AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Selma AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to start your new profession in Selma AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money 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 required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree 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 choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Schools
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Selma AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have busy 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 colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added 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 make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Selma AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Selma AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Selma AL program you select should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy 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 obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Selma AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Selma AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Selma AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Selma home, visit the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Selma AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Selma Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior design school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. It is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Selma Alabama.