How to Find the Best Interior Designer College near Chickasaw Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Chickasaw AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you do the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But just where do you start? Some potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Chickasaw AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Chickasaw AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new career in Chickasaw AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with 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 secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance 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 programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several 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 those who wish to study in the comfort of their Chickasaw AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. 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 difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you pick is accredited by a respected 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 distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Chickasaw AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. 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 make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Chickasaw AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Chickasaw AL college you enroll in should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Chickasaw AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Chickasaw AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Chickasaw AL colleges you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Chickasaw home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with some 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 Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Chickasaw AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Chickasaw Interior Design College
Picking the ideal interior design school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several factors to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Chickasaw Alabama.