How to Select the Best Interior Design Course near Andalusia Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Andalusia AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? Many future students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. 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 first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Andalusia AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly 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 stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Andalusia AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new career in Andalusia AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Andalusia AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, 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 education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Andalusia AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Andalusia AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get 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 school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Andalusia AL program you enroll in should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Andalusia AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Andalusia AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Andalusia AL schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Andalusia home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Andalusia AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Choose in the Best Andalusia Interior Design College
Picking the ideal interior designer college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Andalusia Alabama.