How to Select the Right Interior Designer College near Andalusia Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program 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 spaces, it's important that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you perform the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary difference between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas 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 essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily 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 stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Andalusia AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training required to start your new career in Andalusia AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit 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 take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For students who to study in the convenience of their Andalusia AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent option 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 a number of students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire 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 confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
When 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 an important issue, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Andalusia AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Andalusia AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Andalusia AL school you enroll in should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School'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 higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Andalusia AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Andalusia AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Andalusia AL schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Andalusia home, go to the college and sit in on 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 philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer program you select 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 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, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Choose in the Best Andalusia Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior design program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several factors to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Andalusia Alabama.