How to Choose the Best Interior Design School near Alexander City Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Alexander City AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are considering before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Many prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking 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 available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary difference between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Alexander City AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. 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 particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality 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 banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to 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 carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Alexander City AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new profession in Alexander City AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals 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 certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree 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 training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish 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 professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Alexander City AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges 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 study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools 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 structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Alexander City AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field 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 instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Alexander City AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate 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 also. Therefore aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Alexander City AL school you choose should also provide the appropriate instruction 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Alexander City AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Alexander City AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Alexander City AL schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Alexander City home, go to the college 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Alexander City AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose in the Right Alexander City Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior design program is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alexander City Alabama.