How to Find the Right Interior Designer Degree Program 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 choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you obtain the right 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 essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But just where do you begin? Many prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 Decoration compared to Interior Design
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Albertville AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Albertville AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new profession in Albertville AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Albertville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you select is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs
After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Albertville AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just confirm 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 training are outstanding, it might 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 hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get 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 program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Albertville AL college you choose should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination 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? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a sizable network of Albertville AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Albertville AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Albertville AL schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Albertville home, visit the campus 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 approaches are and what their backgrounds are 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 particularly important if you will continue working while attending 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 procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Choose in the Right Albertville Interior Design College
Picking the right interior design school is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Albertville Alabama.