How to Choose the Best Interior Design Program near Boaz Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Boaz AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? Many prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. We will cover those issues 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 cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training 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 spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Boaz AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Boaz AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new career in Boaz AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business required 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 furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For students who to study in the convenience of their Boaz AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure 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 programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Programs
When you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Boaz AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Boaz AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare 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 as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Boaz AL school you enroll in should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs 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 an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Boaz AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Boaz AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Boaz AL schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Boaz home, visit the school and attend a few classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Boaz AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose in the Best Boaz Interior Design Program
Picking the right interior designer college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Boaz Alabama.