How to Find the Right Interior Design Degree Program near Atmore Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Atmore AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you begin? 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 key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 options are available.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Atmore AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate 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 emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Atmore AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training needed to start your new career in Atmore AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money 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 mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional 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 Atmore AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs
When you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Atmore AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer college and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Atmore AL employers will only employ 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) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Atmore AL program you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with 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 earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a significant network of Atmore AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Atmore AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Atmore AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Atmore home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. While there 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Atmore AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose in the Best Atmore Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior design program is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are many factors to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Atmore Alabama.