Interior Designer College
How to Choose the Best One Near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Tuscaloosa AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. It's imperative that you get the best available training to put your skills to work, even if you have always had a knack for designing residential or commercial interiors. And because interior designers are licensed in several states, the school you choose should prepare you to pass any required licensing exam as well as provide the necessary training for your specialty. So it's very important you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final selection. But just how do you approach enrolling in the right program? When looking for interior design schools, the majority of students begin by targeting the ones that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. There are many other considerations that you should weigh when reviewing schools, for instance reputation and accreditation. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking 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 choices are available.
IT TAKES JUST A FEW MINUTES TO START YOUR INTERIOR DESIGN CAREER BELOW!
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, working 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 taught to make work or residential 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 may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Tuscaloosa AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new career in Tuscaloosa AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take 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. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive 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 college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Courses
For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Tuscaloosa AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Colleges
After you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Tuscaloosa AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Tuscaloosa AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Tuscaloosa AL program you select should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support 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 higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Tuscaloosa AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Tuscaloosa AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of support they provide. Many of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Tuscaloosa AL schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Tuscaloosa home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer school you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose the Right Tuscaloosa Interior Design School
Selecting the ideal interior designer school is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. It is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tuscaloosa Alabama.