How to Select the Right Interior Designer College near Anniston Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Anniston AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will address those issues and other crucial 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 choices are offered.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Anniston AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Anniston AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training required to start your new career in Anniston AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who wish 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.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Anniston AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent 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 convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative 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 decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Anniston AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Anniston AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Anniston AL program you choose should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a sizable network of Anniston AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Anniston AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Anniston AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Anniston home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Anniston AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Anniston Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several points to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance 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 ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Anniston Alabama.