How to Select the Right Interior Design Course near Clanton Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Clanton AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you begin? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial 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 alternatives are offered.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Clanton AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Clanton AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new career in Clanton AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Clanton AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges
When you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Clanton AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Clanton AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Clanton AL school you choose should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet 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 probably need some support 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 high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a sizable network of Clanton AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Clanton AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Clanton AL schools you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Clanton home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak 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 college you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Clanton AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose in the Best Clanton Interior Design School
Picking the right interior design school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are many things to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still important 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 ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Clanton Alabama.