How to Pick the Best Interior Designer Program near Gardendale Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Gardendale AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final selection. But exactly where do you begin? A number of future students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Gardendale AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate 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 focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Gardendale AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new profession in Gardendale AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Gardendale AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. 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 attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools 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 commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance 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.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools
Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Gardendale AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design college and program that you choose 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). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school 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, many Gardendale AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Gardendale AL college you choose should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School'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 schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a significant network of Gardendale AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Gardendale AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Gardendale AL schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Gardendale home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Gardendale AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose in the Best Gardendale Interior Design School
Picking the right interior designer school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are several things to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However 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 properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Gardendale Alabama.