How to Choose the Right Interior Designer School near Albertville Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Albertville AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you perform the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? A number of potential students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Albertville AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Albertville AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new career in Albertville AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted 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 qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For students who to study in the convenience of their Albertville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
When you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Albertville AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few questions 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 ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer 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 organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify 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 college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Albertville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Albertville AL program you select should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained 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 placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Albertville AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Albertville AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Albertville AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Albertville home, go to the college and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Albertville AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose in the Right Albertville Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior designer college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of things to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Albertville Alabama.