How to Choose the Best Interior Design Program near Albertville Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Albertville AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Some potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you must ask 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 class options are offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Albertville AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an 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 primary concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Albertville AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training necessary to start your new career in Albertville AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for 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 colleges. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school 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 acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools
Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Albertville AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Albertville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prepare 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) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Albertville AL program you select should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. 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 an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a large network of Albertville AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Albertville AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of support they offer. Many of interior design programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is important 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 offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Albertville AL programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Albertville home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer program you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Albertville AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Albertville Interior Design School
Selecting the ideal interior designer school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several factors to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Albertville Alabama.