How to Select the Best Interior Design Program near Andalusia Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Andalusia 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 spaces, it's important that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you do the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's talk 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 key difference between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Andalusia AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Andalusia AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new profession in Andalusia AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade 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 acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Andalusia AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Andalusia AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options 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 things that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 education are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Andalusia AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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 college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Andalusia AL school you enroll in should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing 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 held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a sizable network of Andalusia AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Andalusia AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Andalusia AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Andalusia home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design program you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Andalusia AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose in the Right Andalusia Interior Design School
Selecting the ideal interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several factors to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Andalusia Alabama.