How to Find the Best Interior Designer Program 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 picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But just where do you start? Some future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. 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 skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, 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 trained to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Albertville AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Albertville AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training required to begin your new career in Albertville AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Albertville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy 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 some students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Albertville AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design college and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Albertville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some 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 calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an excellent education, the Albertville AL school you select should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet 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 designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Albertville AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Albertville AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Albertville AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Albertville home, go to the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with a few 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Albertville AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Choose in the Right Albertville Interior Design Program
Choosing the right interior design program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are several factors to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Albertville Alabama.