How to Pick the Right Interior Design Degree Program near Anniston Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Anniston AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering before you make your final choice. But just where do you begin? Many prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the only 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 interested in 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 choices are offered.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business 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 a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Anniston AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Anniston AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to start your new career in Anniston AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Anniston AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be a great solution 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 laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools
Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Anniston AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables 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 in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Anniston AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an excellent education, the Anniston AL college you select should also furnish the appropriate education 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a significant network of Anniston AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Anniston AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of aid they provide. Many of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often 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 large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Anniston AL programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Anniston home, visit the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Anniston AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose in the Best Anniston Interior Design Program
Picking the right interior design program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several things to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Anniston Alabama.