Interior Designer Degree
How to Select the Best One Near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Tuscaloosa AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. 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 commercial or residential interiors. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So in order to analyze and compare each college you are considering before you make your final selection it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research. But just how do you undertake finding the right school? When checking out interior design schools, many potential students start by targeting the ones that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. But keep in mind, a school is not always the best choice simply because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. There are several other considerations that you should weigh when analyzing schools, such as accreditation and reputation. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 options are available.
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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main distinction between the two 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 areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's 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 architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Tuscaloosa AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Tuscaloosa AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new career in Tuscaloosa AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees 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 generally completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Classes
For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Tuscaloosa AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you select is accredited by a respected 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 online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Programs
When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Tuscaloosa AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry 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 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Tuscaloosa AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some 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 school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Tuscaloosa AL program you choose should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Tuscaloosa AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Tuscaloosa AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Tuscaloosa AL colleges you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Tuscaloosa home, visit the college and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Tuscaloosa Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior design college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Locating a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. It is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tuscaloosa Alabama.