How to Select the Best Interior Designer Course near Clanton Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Clanton 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 receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in 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 options are offered.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Clanton AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must 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, Clanton AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new career in Clanton AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several 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 individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Clanton AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good 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 home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure 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 earn 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 setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Clanton AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. 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 gone through a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized 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 obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Clanton AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Clanton AL school you enroll in should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill 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 received your interior designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Clanton AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Clanton AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school 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? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Clanton AL colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Clanton home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Clanton AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Clanton Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior design school is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of points to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Clanton Alabama.