How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer College near Albertville Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Albertville AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get the appropriate 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 may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Many prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Albertville AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Albertville AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new career in Albertville AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter 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) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Albertville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only alternative 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 reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire 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 school may be the ideal alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools
After you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Albertville AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. 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 a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Albertville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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 some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Albertville AL school you select should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering 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 school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a significant network of Albertville AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Albertville AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of support they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Albertville AL colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Albertville home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there speak 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your active 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 Albertville AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose in the Right Albertville Interior Design Program
Picking the right interior designer program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Albertville Alabama.