How to Pick the Best Interior Design Course near Bay Minette Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Bay Minette AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But where do you begin? Many potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking 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 training choices are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Bay Minette AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Bay Minette AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new career in Bay Minette AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of 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 university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Bay Minette AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great solution 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 colleges may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
When you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college must be within commuting distance from your Bay Minette AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and school that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. 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 undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Bay Minette AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become 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 some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Bay Minette AL school you select should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam 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 attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Bay Minette AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Bay Minette AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Bay Minette AL schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Bay Minette home, visit the campus 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 styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Bay Minette AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose in the Right Bay Minette Interior Design Program
Selecting the ideal interior designer college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Bay Minette Alabama.