How to Select the Right Interior Design School near Albertville Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer 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 commercial or residential spaces, 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, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Albertville AL can 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 may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, 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 numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Albertville AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new career in Albertville AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential 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 achieving 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 advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Albertville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the only option if no interior design colleges 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 decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Albertville AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Albertville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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 program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Albertville AL school you enroll in should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer 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 so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of Albertville AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Albertville AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of aid they provide. Many of interior design schools offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes 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 minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Albertville AL schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Albertville home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design college you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Albertville AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose in the Right Albertville Interior Design College
Picking the right interior designer college is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Albertville Alabama.