Interior Designer School
How to Choose the Best One Near Tuscaloosa Alabama
So it’s time to begin the process of choosing an interior design school near Tuscaloosa AL now that you have made a career choice to study to be an interior designer. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And because interior designers must be licensed in a number of states, the college you select should prepare you to pass any required licensing exam as well as provide the proper training for your specialty. So it's very important you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. But keep in mind, a school is not always the best choice simply because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. There are a number of other factors that you should evaluate when reviewing schools, for instance accreditation and reputation. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking 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 choices are available.
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Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal distinction 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 talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many 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 some occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Tuscaloosa AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Tuscaloosa AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new career in Tuscaloosa AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business required 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 supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who want 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 as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Schools
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Tuscaloosa AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Tuscaloosa AL home. 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 cost of tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you choose has been accredited by 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Tuscaloosa AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Ready 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) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Tuscaloosa AL program you choose should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet 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 received your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a significant network of Tuscaloosa AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Tuscaloosa AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Tuscaloosa AL programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Tuscaloosa home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Tuscaloosa Interior Design School
Choosing the right interior design college is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for 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 decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. It is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly 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 achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tuscaloosa Alabama.